Riding on 'third neighbour' policy, Mongolia comes closer to India

New Delhi has conveyed its readiness to help Mongolia become self sufficient

India and Mongolia have deepened the diplomatic and strategic ties after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited that country in 2015, the first ever visit by an Indian prime minister. The landlocked nation, sandwiched between China and Russia, has cosied up to India in more than one way of late, losing no opportunity to convey that its ''third neighbour'' foreign policy is here to stay. 

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju meets Prime Minister of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on the sidelines of the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction, in Ulaanbaatar | PTI
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju meets Prime Minister of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on the sidelines of the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction, in Ulaanbaatar | PTI
India, on its part, is doing the same. It has appreciated Mongolia's ''third neighbour'' policy and conveyed its readiness to help the country become self sufficient.
Recently, India has pumped in a USD 1 billion loan for the construction of Mongolia's first oil refinery. This will help the nation use its own resources rather than depending on its neighbours, China and Russia, something that the people of Mongolia have long been unhappy with and kept them wary of growing Chinese or Russian influence and interference in the coming years. 
The desire to emerge as a self sufficient country is justified given that Mongolia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today, said a senior government official in Delhi. India was not caught napping and discovered Mongolia wanted a friend in the global order. New Delhi agreed to be the “third neighbour” of the nation with which its ties go back in history. 
After Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj travelled to Mongolia and this year, within two months, both Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju were in the East Asian country. Today, New Delhi has come out to help Mongolia in several forms of economic cooperation, infrastructure development, energy and information technology, upgrading the level of friendship to a ''strategic partnership'' between the two countries.
Rijiju travelled to Mongolia last week for the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction where global powers like China, Japan, Australia and Russia were also present. The meeting, a routine summit of Asian giants to discuss the disaster risk reduction, however, turned into an underlined moment for both India and Mongolia as the diplomatic niceties made way for moments of special bonding for both the countries. 
Rijiju and Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh have known each other well for a long time. The duo had met in the past over several globally held meetings where they developed a special friendship, the last one being in New Delhi over the disaster risk reduction in 2016. Both the leaders also agreed that the two countries have a lot in common when it comes to the bilateral ties. India and Mongolia also share a special relationship in spiritual aspects as Buddhism came to Mongolia from India. 
Rijiju's recent visit was significant as he not only participated in the conference but got a special attention from the prime minister. Khurelsukh found special time to meet the Indian delegation led by Rijiju, where the two leaders reiterated their commitment to strengthening cooperation between the two countries. That was not all. The Mongolian premier had a special gift in store for his Indian friend. He gifted Rijiju a statue of Genghis Khan, the founder of Mongol Empire, the world’s largest before the British empire. 
As Rijiju took the statue home, Khan, who was the only Mongolian leader who managed to breach the Great Wall of China, seems to have become a symbol of the special friendship between Mongolia and India. 



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