External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a joint
media briefing with Mongolian Foreign Minister D Tsogtbaatar after the 6th
Session of the Indian-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation said the two
countries agreed to explore ways to identify new areas of cooperation in all
sectors of mutual interest and to enhance bilateral trade and investments.
Swaraj, the first Indian foreign minister to visit the resource-rich country in
42 years, said India sees Mongolia as a factor of stability in East Asia and
believes that Mongolia's social and economic development is important for peace
and prosperity in the region.
During the Indian-Mongolia Joint Committee on
Cooperation, the two sides discussed pressing global challenges, particularly
the scourge of terrorism and agreed to collaborate bilaterally and in
international arena to thwart the designs of those who extend support to
terrorist outfits. The two sides also reviewed the progress in the ongoing
collaborative projects, including the refinery project selected by the
Government of Mongolia for implementation with the support of USD one billion
Indian Line of Credit. "We directed our officials to coordinate follow up
action on each side for the expeditious implementation of these projects. Our
strong political ties must be complemented by commensurate levels of trade,
economy and investment," she said.
"Today, India has emerged as one of the fastest
growing large economies in the world. With its rich natural resources and
strong aspiration for development, Mongolia can be an important partner in
India's growth story," she said. Swaraj, who arrive here yesterday on a
two-day visit, said collaboration for the ongoing refinery project is in
recognition of this fact. She said Mongolia is not only India's strategic
partner but also a spiritual neighbour. "We share long historical links.
Mongolia is well known in India for the valour of her kings and her strong
Buddhist heritage. India was among the first countries, outside the erstwhile
Communist bloc, to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia," she
Swaraj said in the six decades of the partnership between
the two countries, the bilateral relations have grown from "strength to
strength". "This is reflected in our widening and deepening strategic
partnership today, based on the common ideals of democracy and freedom, and
enriched by mutual respect and trust." She said Prime Minister Narendra
Modi's "historic visit" in 2015, the first ever by an Indian Prime
Minister to Mongolia, provided a fresh impetus to the bilateral relations and
qualitatively raised the level of the engagement. "We also agreed that we
should make all efforts to maintain and accelerate the momentum of our
interaction in all areas."
She said that in tandem with the countries' "ever
growing" engagement, India and Mongolai will have more frequent visits now
on at Foreign Minister's level. Calling upon the Mongolian business community
to "seize economic opportunities arising out of "India's
growth", she said the two countries have agreed to remove institutional
and logistical impediments to boost trade, tourism and people to people contacts.
"In this regard, we also agreed to explore possibility of launching direct
air connectivity between our two capitals," she said. In the meeting, they
discussed economic cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development,
energy, services and IT. She said that India is committed for capacity building
programmes for the people of Mongolia, including in areas such as, training in
English language and IT. She said India looks forward to more students from
Mongolia visiting the country for pursuing vocational education and training
under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme, also known as
ITEC, and through scholarships offered by the Indian Council of Cultural
The minister also said that the students from Mongolia
would be encouraged to pursue studies in Indian art, music, culture and also
Buddhist studies since both the countries have the common Buddhist heritage.
Saying that the teachings of Lord Buddha will continue
to guide us, she said India and Mongolia have close cooperation in trade and
economy, science, health, agriculture, culture, education, communication and
tourism. The two countries are also working closely to ensure security and
curbing international crimes and terrorism. The total trade between the two
countries amounted to USD 25.6 million in 2016.
The External Affairs Minister also attended the
celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of Venerable Kushok Bakula who was
not only an eminent Buddhist leader, but also the longest serving Ambassador of
India to Mongolia. He served as India's Ambassador to Mongolia from 1990 -
2000. He also served as a Minister in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
Speaking at the function held in Ulaanbaatar, Sushma
Swaraj said that Bakula was a proud embodiment of India's age-old Buddhist
traditions and our message to the world of peace, amity and humanism.