Envoy: US is Mongolia's "Most Important Third Neighbor"

His Excellency Bekhbat Khasbazar speaking in Washington on the state of U.S.-Mongolia relations on Oct. 12, 2010.

WASHINGTON, DC, October 12, 2010 – Mongolia is making progress on fulfilling the United Nation’s eight Millennium Development Goals, according to Mongolia's Ambassador to the United States, Bekhbat Khasbazar.

At a discussion and dinner organized by Asia Society Washington Center at the Mongolian Embassy, the ambassador described his country’s progress in expanding primary education, promoting gender equality, combating HIV, and reducing the infant mortality rate.

Bekhbat said a new focus on good governance has been instrumental in producing meaningful reform. He remarked that over the past twenty years Mongolia had transformed from "one of the most closed societies in the world into a vibrant, pluralistic democracy."

Despite these successes, he admitted that progress in other developmental spheres has been slow. Over one third of Mongolians still live under the poverty line, and desertification affects 80 percent of the land.

In addressing these problems, Bekhbat called the US Mongolia’s "most important third neighbor." He thanked the US for providing aid to the country and expressed his hope for a continued cooperation in security, nuclear energy, and bilateral trade.

Reported by Kate Rosin, Asia Society Washington