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Mongolia is strengthening its cooperation with the United States on rare earths


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mongolia will deepen its cooperation with Washington on rare earth mining, said the country's Prime Minister, L. Oyun-Erdene, during a visit to Washington on Wednesday. However, he warned that a "new Cold War" between the United States and China would harm the global economy.


U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Mongolia's Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai at her ceremonial office, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House campus in Washington, U.S., August 2, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Wurm

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Mongolia's Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai at her ceremonial office, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House campus in Washington, U.S., August 2, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Wurm


Mongolia possesses significant deposits of rare earths and copper, which are essential for high-tech applications, including defense equipment and President Joe Biden's efforts to electrify the automotive market to combat climate change.


Oyun-Erdene spoke with Reuters after his meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, during which they agreed to sign an "Open Skies" civil aviation agreement, among other commitments for economic cooperation.

"We discussed the potential for cooperation in the mining of rare earths and critical minerals, including copper," said Oyun-Erdene, speaking through a translator.


Cooperation with the United States, which he referred to as Mongolia's "important strategic third neighbor," on rare earths and critical minerals is already underway and will be further strengthened under a memorandum of understanding signed in June between Mongolia's Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry and the U.S. Department of State, he added.


Mongolia hopes to maintain good relations with its neighbor China, which controls most of the world's rare earth deposits, as well as with the United States. However, Oyun-Erdene warned that countries like his own, situated between China and Russia, would suffer if competition between superpowers escalated.


"I fear that the new Cold War will be very different and more challenging than the first Cold War," he said, emphasizing rapid technological changes and global issues such as climate change. "We cannot bear a new Cold War situation."

He called on major powers to be "more responsible" to avoid "drastic negative effects on many countries around the world, especially the international economy."


U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai of Mongolia in the Ceremonial office at the White House on August 2, 2023. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai of Mongolia in the Ceremonial office at the White House on August 2, 2023. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI



Oyun-Erdene stated that his country is in discussions with Tesla CEO Elon Musk for potential investments and cooperation in the electric vehicle and space sectors, but he will not meet the technology billionaire during this visit.


The Mongolian leader said he plans to travel to California for a separate trip to meet with Musk and other technology industry leaders, but the date has not been decided yet.

During his visit, Oyun-Erdene will also visit the U.S. space agency NASA and is expected to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.


He referred to the United States as the "Polar Star guide for our democratic journey" and said his discussions will focus on "how we can further enhance our democratic values."


Due to its border with Russia, a U.S. adversary, Mongolia has experienced the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, including inflation of goods like mining explosives, as stated by Oyun-Erdene.

The Biden administration has focused on developing relationships with Asian countries to counter China's growing power and the so-called "no limits" partnership between Beijing and Moscow.

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