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Thursday, May 19, 2016

[BREAKING: Khan Resources signs settlement papers with GoM for release of $70m from escrow]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Thursday, May 19, 2016

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Khan Announces Completion of Documentation for Settlement Payment

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 18, 2016) - Khan Resources Inc. ("Khan" or the "Company") (CSE:KRI) announces that Khan and the Government of Mongolia have signed the settlement documentation required for the release of US$70 million to Khan from the escrow agent located in New York. With the execution of such agreement, joint instructions will be issued to the escrow agent to transmit the funds to Khan, and Khan's counsel will secure a dismissal order from the United States District Court in Washington, DC of Khan's petition for certification of the international arbitration award rendered on March 2, 2015 in favour of Khan.

The Company is continuing to investigate and detail options to distribute the majority of the funds remaining, after discharge of liabilities and obligations, to shareholders in a tax-efficient and timely manner. The process may entail multiple tranches.

With the forthcoming transmittal of the settlement to Khan, the Company's primary objectives have now been met, and Martin Quick and Raffi Babikian have announced their retirement from the Board. The Company wishes to thank Messrs. Quick and Babikian for their valued input and years of service through very trying times.

Link to release

 

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Friday, May 6, 2016

[BREAKING: Rio Tinto approves $5.3 billion Oyu Tolgoi underground development, first production expected in 2020]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Friday, May 6, 2016

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Announcement made after ASX close, before LSE open. (ASX:RIO, LSE:RIO, TSX:TRQ, NYSE:TRQ)

Rio Tinto approves development of Oyu Tolgoi underground mine 

6 May 2016 (Rio Tinto) Rio Tinto and its partners, the Government of Mongolia and Turquoise Hill Resources, have approved the next stage in the development of the world-class Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia. The development of the underground mine will start in mid-2016 following the approval of a $5.3 billion investment by the partners and the recent granting of all necessary permits. 

First production from the underground, which has an average copper grade of 1.66 per cent, more than three times higher than the open pit, is expected in 2020. When the underground is fully ramped up in 2027, Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce more than 500,000 tonnes of copper a year,1 compared with current annual production of 175,000-200,000 tonnes. The mine also benefits from significant gold by-products, with an average gold grade of 0.35 grams per tonne. 

This expansion provides an attractive investment for all shareholders with an expected internal rate of return of more than 20 per cent.2 The material from this brownfield expansion will utilise the existing concentrator and infrastructure. The size and quality of this tier one resource provides additional expansion options, which could see production sustained for many decades.

Rio Tinto deputy chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said "Rio Tinto's partnership with Mongolia began over a decade ago and we are proud of what we have already achieved in building a world-class and safety-focused operation which has already been selling copper for nearly three years. Today's investment takes it to another level and will transform Oyu Tolgoi into one of the most significant copper mines globally, unlocking 80 per cent of its value.

"Long-term copper fundamentals remain strong and production from the Oyu Tolgoi underground will commence at a time when copper markets are expected to face a structural deficit. In line with Rio Tinto's other tier one assets, Oyu Tolgoi offers opportunities for further expansions, leveraging existing infrastructure and supply chains and will provide attractive returns for all shareholders and Mongolia more broadly for decades to come. This is a long-term partnership, built to create mutual benefit."

The open-pit mine at Oyu Tolgoi was completed on schedule in less than 24 months and production started in 2013. Since then, more than 440,000 tonnes of copper have been sold. Oyu Tolgoi has a workforce of approximately 3000, of which 95 per cent is Mongolian, and to date has paid more than $1.4 billion in taxes, fees and other payments to the Government of Mongolia.

Prime Minister of Mongolia MP Chimediin Saikhanbileg said "This significant investment demonstrates the confidence of all the partners in both the Oyu Tolgoi mine and in Mongolia. It also demonstrates the attractiveness of Mongolia as a place to do business and invest, which will be a catalyst for further investments that will strengthen Mongolia's economy.

"The development of the underground will create further jobs, support Mongolian suppliers and unlock substantial value for all stakeholders, delivering benefits for all Mongolians for generations to come. This is a proud day for Mongolia and is a clear demonstration that the country is back to business." 

1 This production target (stated as payable metal) for the Oyu Tolgoi underground and open pit is underpinned three per cent by proven ore reserves and 97 per cent by probable ore reserves for the years 2025-2030, which have been scheduled from current mine designs by Competent Persons in accordance with the requirements of the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Minerals Resources and Ore Reserves, 2012 Edition. 

2 IRR based on Wood Mackenzie price forecasts as at Q1 2016.

Today's investment decision follows the December 2015 signing of a $4.4 billion project financing agreement with international financial institutions and export credit agencies representing the Governments of the United States, Canada and Australia, along with 15 commercial banks, for the development of the underground mine. The parties have agreed a senior debt cap of $6 billion, providing the option for $1.6 billion of supplemental senior debt.

Note to editors

Oyu Tolgoi is jointly owned by the Government of Mongolia (34 per cent) and Turquoise Hill Resources (66 per cent, of which Rio Tinto owns 51 per cent). Rio Tinto has been the manager of the Oyu Tolgoi project since 2010. 

Some $6.4 billion has been invested to develop the open-pit mine, concentrator and associated infrastructure at Oyu Tolgoi, with an additional $500 million of capital costs for initial development of the underground mine. 

Oyu Tolgoi raised limited recourse project finance to refinance existing shareholder funding and support development of the underground. The initial project finance tranche of $4.4 billion was secured in December 2015 and is expected to be drawn during the second quarter of 2016. The Oyu Tolgoi underground development will be funded by project finance debt and cash flows from Oyu Tolgoi's open-pit operations plus cash held by Turquoise Hill Resources. 

Oyu Tolgoi is fully consolidated in Rio Tinto's accounts. On drawdown, the project finance will be recognised on Rio Tinto's balance sheet as cash and debt.

Underground production will come from the Hugo Dummett North deposit (including the North Extension) which contains probable ore reserves of 499 million tonnes with an average grade of 1.66 per cent copper and 0.35 grams per tonne of gold.3  

Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 560,000 tonnes of copper a year, on average, between 2025 and 2030,1 when it is expected to operate in the first quartile of the copper cost curve.

Link to release

 

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

3rd Annual Turkish Cultural Days in Ulaanbaatar, April 22-29 with Turkish Film Showcase April 23-29

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

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3rd Annual Turkish Cultural Days in Ulaanbaatar, April 22-29

H.E. Mr. Murat Karagöz, Ambassador of Turkey held a press conference on Turkish Cultural Days, to be organized on 22-29 April. Within the scope of the Turkish Cultural Days, which is aimed to strengthen the Turkish-Mongolian cultural relations, following events will take place.

On 22 April, on the occasion of the International Children’s Day, secondary school students will visit the Turkish Embassy in Ulaanbaatar. On the same day, a children’s performance will be given at the Children’s Art and Creativity Center. Under the theme of “Global Peace and Friendship”, composition and painting competitions have been organized and the winners will be awarded the Turkish Ambassador.

Ambassador Murat Karagöz and Embassy representatives will visit “Onor Bul” orphanage.

The annual Turkish Film Showcase will take place on 23-29, April. Every evening award-winning films will be shown free of charge at Tengis Cinema. 

On the commemoration of the 101st anniversary of the Gallipoli war, the film “Water Diviner” will be screened at the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence. On 25 April, Anzac Day service will take place with the participation of Turkish, Australian, New Zealand and British communities at the Choijin Lama Monastery. Photo exhibition “Sceneries from Turkey” will be opened at the exhibition hall of the Mongolian Artists’ Union. A Turkish Gala Reception will be held at the Residence at 19:00.

On 27 April, H.E. Ambassador Murat Karagöz will give a lecture on “Turkey: Bridging cultures and civilizations” at the National University of Mongolia.

On 29 April, Turkish opera singer Serap Ciftci and pianist Nurser Ugan will give a performance in the State Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Additionally, this year marks the 20th anniversary of establishment of Turkish Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.

AGENDA:

 

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[TRQ announces 'strong' Q1 production; USD slump continues ; MPP-MPRP coalition talks falter; and DBM not TDB signs $300m VTB financing]

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

ASEM 11

President of Italian Senate to Visit Mongolia for ASEP9

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) Mongolia will receive the President of Italy's Senate Mr Pietro Grasso this April 20-23.  

The Chairman of the Great State Khural (parliament) Z.Enkhbold invited him to pay an official visit to Mongolia. 

The Italian parliament consists of two houses--the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic. According to the principle of full bicameralism, the two houses perform identical functions. Their main function is to make the laws of the country.

Both Houses are elected every five years. The only differences between them lie in the membership and the rules for the election of their members. The 630 deputies, who must be at least 25 years of age, are elected by all Italians over 18 years of age. The 315 elected senators must be at least 40 years of age and their electors must be over 25.

In addition to elected members, the Senate also includes life senators--appointed by the President of the Republic "for outstanding merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field", and the former Presidents of the Republic, who are ex officio life senators.

Link to article

 

Indian Speaker of Lower House pays an official visit to Mongolia

April 19 (gogo.mn) Speaker of the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of the Indian parliament Ms Sumitra Mahajan is paying an official visit to Mongolia today at the invitation of Z.Enkhbold, the Chairman of the State Great Khural. She will take part in some measures of the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP9) that will hold in Ulaanbaatar on Apr 21-23. 

In frames of the forthcoming visit, the Speakers of the two countries will hold official talks, and then Ms Sumitra will be received by the President Ts.Elbegdorj. The Prime Minister of Mongolia Mr Ch.Saikhanbileg will pay a courtesy call on the Indian Speaker as well.

By a visiting programme, the Speakers will sign a cooperation protocol between the State Great Khural and the Lower House of Indian parliament, and will give reports to media. Afterwards, Ms Sumitra will attend a ceremony of granting the "Bhabhatron II" medical apparatus and a simulator apparatus of X-ray treatment to the National Center of Oncology.

Within the visit, a cooperation protocol will be inked by B.Boldbaatar, the Secretary-General of the Parliament Office; and Anuul Mishra, the Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Office of the Lower House.

Link to article

Related:

Speaker of Lower House of Indian parliament arrivesMontsame, April 19

SGK Chairman Z.Enkhbold welcomes Indian Speaker Montsame, April 19

 

Int'l Market

TRQ closed +4.98% Tuesday to US$2.95, (+0.68% after-hours)

Turquoise Hill Announces First Quarter 2016 Production

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - April 19, 2016) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced first quarter 2016 production for Oyu Tolgoi.

Jeff Tygesen, Turquoise Hill Chief Executive Officer, said, "Oyu Tolgoi delivered strong first quarter production results with concentrator throughput reaching a quarterly high as well as better-than-expected gold production. We are increasing 2016 gold production guidance to reflect the mine accessing more of the final, high-gold benches in phase 2 of the open pit. Also during the quarter, Oyu Tolgoi surpassed 2.0 million tonnes of concentrate shipped."

In Q1'16, concentrator throughput increased 3.1% over Q4'15 resulting in average throughput of approximately 106,000 tonnes per day for the quarter. Concentrate production in Q1'16 remained high resulting from increased throughput and strong copper grades. Copper production in Q1'16 reached a quarterly high increasing 0.5% over Q4'15. As expected, gold production in Q1'16 declined approximately 30% over Q4'15 due to lower grades and the near-completion of mining in phase 2 of the open pit.

Given stronger-than-expected Q1'16 gold production, the Company is increasing 2016 gold in concentrates guidance to 255,000 to 285,000 ounces from 210,000 to 260,000 ounces. Mining of the phase 2 gold core is expected to be complete in Q2'16. The Company continues to expect Oyu Tolgoi to produce 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes of copper in concentrates for 2016.

Oyu Tolgoi Production Data

All data represents full production and sales on a 100% basis

Link to release

Related:

Entree Gold Receives Positive Decision on Clean Water Act Permit for Ann Mason Project, Nevada – ETG, April 19

 

MATD traded 2.13p on Tuesday

Petro Matad Limited Stock Reaches 52-Week Low

April 18 (MarketBeat.com) The stock of Petro Matad Limited (LON:MATD) hit a new 52-week low and has GBX 1.72 target or 14.00% below today's GBX 2.00 share price. The 6 months bearish chart indicates high risk for the GBX 6.50M company. The 1-year low was reported on Apr, 19 by Barchart.com. If the GBX 1.72 price target is reached, the company will be worth GBX 910,000 less. The 52-week low event is an important milestone for every stock because it shows very negative momentum and is time when sellers come in. During such technical setups, fundamental investors usually stay away and are careful buying the stock. The stock decreased 5.88% or GBX 0.12 on April 18, hitting GBX 2. About 216,852 shares traded hands or 241.74% up from the average. Petro Matad Limited (LON:MATD) has declined 46.88% since September 15, 2015 and is downtrending. It has underperformed by 53.45% the S&P500.

Petro Matad Limited is a Mongolia-based oil exploration company. The company has a market cap of 6.50 million GBP. The Firm is engaged in the production, development and exploration of oil. It currently has negative earnings. The Firm holds an operatorship of three production sharing contracts with the Government of Mongolia.

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -0.47%, ALL -0.53%, Turnover 11.5 Million Shares

April 19 (MSE) --

Link to report

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Economy

Historic low 2,050.85/USD set March 28, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, April 19 Close

4/19

4/18

4/15

4/14

4/13

4/12

4/11

4/8

4/7

4/6

4/5

4/4

4/1

3/31

3/30

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USD

1,986.24

1,992.39

2,005.08

2,008.46

2,013.15

2,020.04

2,023.91

2,026.93

2,032.89

2,042.75

2,042.49

2,047.17

2,048.79

2,048.90

2,050.73

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EUR

2,250.41

2,249.41

2,257.52

2,258.71

2,285.13

2,306.89

2,310.29

2,301.07

2,326.13

2,320.56

2,325.37

2,329.47

2,331.73

2,322.22

2,317.94

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JPY

18.24

18.45

18.34

18.35

18.49

18.64

18.77

18.64

18.69

18.51

18.50

18.34

18.23

18.23

18.26

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GBP

2,843.10

2,817.34

2,839.59

2,833.33

2,864.31

2,880.38

2,861.40

2,851.18

2,869.53

2,887.43

2,908.81

2,911.69

2,943.39

2,939.25

2,956.85

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RUB

30.19

29.12

30.27

30.16

30.49

30.34

30.17

30.02

30.04

29.79

29.61

29.84

30.64

30.24

30.14

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CNY

306.96

307.49

309.33

309.66

311.28

312.38

312.97

312.81

314.47

315.36

315.67

315.99

316.91

316.86

316.35

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KRW

1.75

1.73

1.75

1.74

1.76

1.76

1.77

1.76

1.76

1.77

1.77

1.78

1.78

1.79

1.78

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SGD

1,477.42

1,466.45

1,474.43

1,470.43

1,493.82

1,501.33

1,504.54

1,500.98

1,508.30

1,508.79

1,505.21

1,514.91

1,517.96

1,518.32

1,516.48

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CAD

1,557.10

1,534.61

1,566.04

1,557.67

1,571.12

1,566.71

1,558.17

1,547.81

1,559.80

1,554.66

1,559.15

1,567.51

1,572.61

1,579.97

1,571.20

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AUD

1,547.58

1,523.78

1,547.82

1,534.87

1,539.56

1,543.21

1,529.27

1,528.41

1,547.54

1,545.54

1,551.37

1,559.53

1,572.14

1,569.76

1,566.76

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HKD

256.09

256.90

258.50

258.91

259.56

260.46

260.89

261.30

262.09

263.35

263.36

263.99

264.20

264.23

264.46

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CHF

2,062.77

2,061.77

2,071.90

2,075.71

2,100.53

2,120.78

2,124.06

2,116.79

2,134.27

2,130.75

2,130.48

2,132.80

2,133.05

2,124.20

2,123.57

Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮1,975 Sell ₮1,995), Khan (Buy ₮1,975 Sell ₮1,995), Golomt (Buy ₮1,975 Sell ₮1,995), XacBank (Buy ₮1,970 Sell ₮1,995), State Bank (Buy ₮1,975 Sell ₮1,995)

MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:

Link to rates

 

BoM declines USD, CNY ask offers, accepts $8.3m MNT swap offers

April 19 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on April 19th, 2016, the BOM has received selling bid offers of USD 15.8 million in a rate between MNT 1992.00-1998.00 and selling bid offers of CNY 2.0 million in a rate with MNT 307.75 respectively. The BOM did not accept any bid offers.

On April 19th, 2016, the BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offers equivalent to USD 8.3 million and USD swap agreement selling bid offers equivalent to USD 20.0 million from local commercial banks respectively and the BOM accepted the MNT swap agreement buying bid offers of USD 8.3 million.

Link to release

 

Mongolia to spend India's $1 billion loan on infrastructure

April 19 (UB Post) During his state visit to Mongolia last year, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi promised to provide one billion USD in loans. Mongolian Mining Journal interviewed Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren about details on the loan agreement and plans for spending. 

Last May, India said that it would provide a one billion USD loan to Mongolia. What will it be used for?

In May 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an official visit to Mongolia. During the visit, the prime ministers of Mongolia and India held official negotiations and exchanged views on expanding cooperation and relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Modi reported that the Government of India had decided to open a one billion USD credit line for ensuring Mongolia's economic growth, based on the importance of Mongolia's infrastructure sector development.

This is a long-term concessional loan. Does the Indian side have any requirements for the loan's conditions and spending? 

Since 1990, Mongolia has taken out 27.5 million USD in concessional loans from India, which makes up one percent of the nation's total concessional loans. Prime Minister Modi underlined that the loan will be issued for the nation's infrastructure sector. The Indian side proposed a concessional loan with a 1.5 percent annual interest rate and an eight-year repayment period. At the beginning of April, government representatives from the Cabinet Secretariat, Finance Ministry, Foreign Affairs Ministry, and Roads and Transportation Ministry visited Delhi to negotiate with the Indian side on softening the loan conditions. As a result, the concessional loan will issued for a 25-year period with a 1.75 percent annual interest rate, and Mongolia will be exempt from repaying the principal payment of the loan for the first seven years after receiving funds. We are now working toward establishing the general loan agreement. We are planning to spend the money on infrastructure, especially in the railroad sector.

Are there any other loans or financial assistance that will be provided to Mongolia in 2016? 

In addition to the concessional loan from India, we are negotiating on a one billion USD loan from China's Exim Bank. The issue of taking out loans from Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and other international banks and financial organizations remains open. These issues will be regulated in accordance with the Law on Debt Management.

Link to interview

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Politics & Legal

MPP holding closed conference

April 19 (news.mn) Yesterday, (4th April), the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) held a conference. Although it had been scheduled for 14.00pm, it did not begin until 16.00 pm, because discussions by the board had proved lengthier than expected. Attendance at the conference was 60% of MPP members.

MPP Chairman M.Enkhbold opened the conference with a speech to the members. On the agenda were several issues – such as the action plan for the forthcoming parliamentary election and the procedure for selecting candidates. However, no final decision was reached on the important matter of the alliance between the MPP and the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP).

Today, the MPRP conference is taking place. Some members of the MPP have noted that their decision regarding the MPP-MPRP alliance at their next conference will depend on the outcome of the MPRP's debate today.

According to the General Electoral Law, the political parties must present their action plan to the Audit Commission, by 20th April.

Link to article

 

National Consultative Meeting of Democratic Party

April 19 (news.mn) Yesterday (18th April), the National Consultative Meeting of the Democratic Party took place. There was a one hour delay on the scheduled 18.00 pm start. Last weekend, the DP worked on their action plan at Ikh Tenger. This is based on "Mongolian Person-2020", which was approved in 2012. Therefore, yesterday the DP discussed the action plan at the National Consultative Meeting (NCM). In total it was attended by 130 of the all 228 NCM members.

The reason for the hurried action plan is the General Electoral Law, according to which political parties must present their plans to the National Audit Commission by 20th April. Today, the NCM will convene again in order to resolve the remaining issues.

Link to article

 

Mongolia needs vision and accurate policy for recovering economy: MPP chairman

April 19 (UB Post) The following interview with Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Head of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) M.Enkhbold covers timely issues in the Mongolian political world.

What kind of issues do you wish to discuss and resolve at the last meeting of the current Parliament? 

It's not the time to talk about what kind of issue Parliament should discuss. It's the time to make a comprehensive evaluation of the past four years and look towards the future. We must now put an end to the crisis in the Mongolia society, economy and politics. Unless these crises are settled, it'll lead to default and Mongolia will have no choice but to announce bankruptcy. We must contemplate why the economy, which amazed the whole world with its incredibly fast growth only four years ago, has ended to its current state.

Whether it is its location, population or natural resources, Mongolia has advantages for developing a free market society. Yet, Mongolia is caught up in debt, the public is discontent, and the governance is facing a crisis. This is an unhealthy phenomenon. I'm not talking about these things as the head of the opposition party. Everyone can see that the society is facing challenges and adverse scenes. The state's operations have faced serious failures, the public has lost faith in the state, and the economy is in a very bad shape.

We have lost four whole years because of thoughtless politicians. I hope that the upcoming election will be conducted ethically and responsibly. In general, voters should change the way they look and evaluate politicians and change their voting criteria.

The MPP demanded to dismiss Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold, Head of the Democratic Party. Some say that it's a political show. Is it important to dismiss the Speaker of Parliament when the election is due in less than two months?

Parliament is the state supreme body of Mongolia. The public elects members of Parliament as their representative. Our party can't accept a speaker who treats everything from the political perspective, mistreats or is rude to other MPs elected by the public and fulfills his role politically. Two months are a long time. There are many things we have to resolve without losing a single day. Yet, the Speaker of Parliament announced an irregular meeting to discuss the burial of nuclear waste.

I'm sure that the public is aware that [our party] took this measure because unreasonable and unforgivable mistakes have been made repeatedly. In fact, being a Speaker of Parliament isn't a personal issue. The Mongolian state has three major mistakes that need to be fixed that are more important than the economic difficulty.

Firstly, the reputation of the Mongolian state has degraded. The public's confidence in the state has dropped and the immunity of state officials have weakened. Secondly, Mongolia's reputation has fallen tremendously during this era of economic globalization. Mongolia, which has a rich history of statehood, has lost the confidence of investors, starting from Russian and Chinese investors, because of reckless mistakes by few immature people. Thirdly, the most concerning issues are the fact that the Constitutional Court, the sole protector and representative of the Constitution, made an illegal, dirty decision which had a political motive. It's impossible to forgive this act of prioritizing political interests.

The parliamentary election will begin in less than two months. How is the MPP preparing for the election?

Link to interview

 

Cabinet Backs Establishing Free Trade Zone at New UB Airport

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) In accordance with the cabinet decision on Monday, the Monitoring and Information Center for vocational education and training has been included in a structure of the Ministry of Labor.

-       The cabinet approved a rule on holding a registration of people in alternate services of the Armed Forces, payment and exploitation of the money.

-       The cabinet backed a draft resolution of parliament on establishing a free-zone at a new international airport being built in Khoshig Valley in Tov aimag. Obligation were given to some Ministers to formulate the draft resolution and to submit it to the government.

-       The cabinet also backed a draft new version of the law on tourism. It will be submitted to parliament. The cabinet also supported in principle a draft amendment to the law on establishment of court. Related proposals will be conveyed to the General Council of Court.

-       The cabinet discussed a matter on establishing here an international training center for election observers and let FM L.Purevsuren include this center in his 2016 budget package.

-       The cabinet discussed results of the PM's participation in the 19th Annual Asian Investment Conference held this April 5-8 in Hong Kong. The FM was ordered to submit this matter to the National Security Council (NSC).

-       The cabinet approved results of a visit of a Deputy PM of Belarus to Mongolia this March 16-19. The Deputy Premier Ts.Oyunbaatar was obliged to approve a plan of works, to be executed by the visit's outcome, and to monitor the implementation.

-       Results of the 12th Mongolia-UK round-table meeting were approved as well.

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Cabinet renews Program on Promoting Exports

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) Mongolian government has been realizing the Program since 2013. However, the performance has been going with 18 percent until now, a fact of which says that the program needs to be upgraded, decided the cabinet regular meeting on April 18

The cabinet resolved to renew the export promoting program for 2016-2020. The program aims to promote long-term sustainable economic development through increasing the products produced by latest technology, based on innovations and know-how, improving competitiveness and diversification of exports. 

With the implementation of this program in 2016-2020, the exports of products from non-extractive industries will reach 30 percent of the country's overall exports, the processing industry products-- 15 percent, the policymakers expect.

It is also estimated that the revenue from exports of food, agriculture and light industry products would amount to one billion USD.

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Cabinet backs in principle bill to exempt domestic bus production from VAT, customs

Ulaanbaatar, April 1  (MONTSAME) The cabinet meeting on Monday backed in principle a concept of a draft law on exemption from customs tax and VAT.

Obligations were given to B.Bolor, the Minister of Finance; D.Dorligjav, the Minister of Justice; and D.Erdenebat, the Minister of Industry, to co-approve the concept, to work out the bill, and to submit it to the cabinet meeting.

Mongolia imports some 2,000 units of public transportation vehicles a year. It has been estimated that 100-150 vehicles could be assembled in Mongolia, so the draft aims to exempt the domestic companies of vehicles from customs tax and VAT, which will reduce expenses of productions by 15%, contributing to boosting of competitiveness in the national market.

As of today, companies of vehicle productions pay 834 million Togrog as customs tax and VAT to assemble 20 buses a year. If the law comes into force, Mongolia will be able to raise VAT of over 6 billion Togrog, to improve related staffers, to create some 220 jobs, and to introduce progressive techniques and technologies.

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Best soums named

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) This year, Bayankhongor aimag's Galuut, Sukhbaatar aimag's Tumentsogt, Selenge aimag's Tsagaannuur and Khovd aimag's Zereg have become the best soums.

As the cabinet meeting decided April 18, each of them will receive a cash prize of 100 million Togrog. 

Selected from Khangai region, Galuut soum has realized 103 types of works reflected in its 2015's basic guidelines for a social-economic development. This soum has planted potatoes and vegetables on over 60 hectares after having restored an irrigation system; 24 people have been provided with jobs; and no child mortality has been recorded in the last two years.

Sukhbaatar aimag's Tumentsogt soum has tackled its energy supply issue, connecting the Baganuur-southeastern region to energy sources as well as to the Internet. Thanks to developing small- and middle-sized productions and family business, 373 jobs have been created.

Tsagaannuur and Zereg soums have been named the best thanks to constructing of apartment towns, improving illumination system, making living environment more comfortable. A small commercial center, a development center for children, kindergartens and apartments have been built in these soums as well.

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The ASEM drama directed by state officials

April 19 (UB Post) This year Mongolia is organizing the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit from July 15 to 16 in Ulaanbaatar. Since the news of Mongolia hosting the summit was first announced, Mongolia's leaders started placing a high priority on the meeting. Of course, ASEM is an opportunity for Mongolia to promote the country, and many people see the summit as a chance Mongolia cannot pass up.

The Cabinet created a special working group in charge of organizing the summit, and they have been taking many measures to improve the city's landscape. The Cabinet approved a budget of 20 billion MNT for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pay for the summit's organization. China is providing 15 million USD in assistance for the purchase of goods and products required for the summit, while some European countries are helping in organizing one the summit's sub-conferences, according to a government report. It is also reported that the private sector is supplying cars and building villas for the summit's guests, funded through loans from Development Bank of Mongolia.

The Mongolian Hotel Association and Office of the President reported that nearly 200 billion MNT will be spent for hotel upgrades to serve delegates from over 50 countries. The money is being issued in loans to hotels. On April 8, a total of 52 Toyota Prius 30s, valued at 3.4 billion MNT, were handed over to police for use during ASEM.

Deputy Chairman of the ASEM Organizing Committee B.Bayasgalan said that preparation for the summit is being carried out in accordance with plans. He said, "Together, with the private sector, we are resolving the issue of cars to serve summit guests. We will import 250 new cars. Currently, we are working to exempt taxes for these cars. The government will not spend money on this issue. Estimates suggest that around 350 cars will be required for the summit guests. We are conducting studies on cars used by ministries, private entities, and citizens that could be used for serving ASEM guests."

"The Ministry of Roads and Transportation is implementing a project on inter-urban public transportation. Under the project, the ministry negotiated to buy over 300 buses through concessional loans from the Republic of Korea. First, we will buy 50 buses before the summit. During the summit, namely from July 15 to 16, the central road will be closed," Baysgalan said.

Last week, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul decided to spend three billion MNT to repaint sidewalks and pavement, remove and replace pavement, build bicycle paths, take down fences that don't meet standards, renovate building facades in the city center, and on other renovation projects, such as resolving lighting issues in residential areas.

Even though the summit is a chance for promoting Mongolia, its organization shouldn't burden the lives of citizens. State officials, including Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg, called on Ulaanbaatarians to spend time in the countryside during the two-day meeting. Of course, the public is criticizing these requests to make sacrifices, and are asking each other if the state is ashamed of its citizens.

Recently, local media is reporting that the Mayor's Office released an order to suspend the operations of some roadside shoe repair shops, canteens, and kiosks as part of the ASEM city beautification effort. Kiosk owners say that officials from district Production and Services departments are pressuring these small business owners to close their businesses until August 20.

Kiosk operator S.Munkhbat said, "I rent a modern kiosk that meets design standards approved by the Mayor's Office. I pay 750,000 MNT for rent every month. But how am I supposed to live and how am I supposed to pay for rent if the city administration is not allowing me to operate?"

B.Erdenechimeg, an expert from the Production and Services Department of Bayangol District, said, "We are demanding that business owners suspend their activities following an order from our authorities. This isn't only related to ASEM, but for the comfort of Ulaanbaatarians."

The 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP9) is going to take place from April 21 to 22.  Over 100 parliament speakers and members from 23 countries are expected to take part in the meeting. Following the meeting, Ulaanbaatar Mayor E.Bat-Uul released Guideline A/286. In order to ensure the safety of the meeting's guests and to prevent crime and mitigate traffic, the Mayor has decided to close some of the biggest markets and trade centers operating in the city center. On April 21, vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot participate in traffic, while vehicles with plates ending in even numbers cannot be driven on April 22.

UB administrators and other state officials are just releasing orders and guidelines in order to make Mongolia look better to foreign guests, but they shouldn't pressure citizens and businesses. At a time when everyone is talking about the economic crisis, they should understand that behind every booth and kiosk there are many people trying to make a living.

Many streets will be renovated and quite a large amount of money will be spent on greening Ulaanbaatar, but will trees and plants impress foreign delegates? Instead of wasting billions on city renovation, it would be much better for Mongolia, and for its future, if a new children's or maternity hospital was built.

The city administration wants to suspend the operations of kiosks and other service providers located along roads, but how are these people supposed to live for the next few months? Now, when the nation's economic conditions are difficult, people are gravely concerned about unemployment and are dependent on their jobs to stay out of debt and stay in their homes. This is reality: people are living from paycheck to paycheck, patching the front hem with the back hem.

Why does Cabinet want to pretend that Mongolia is a rich country? There are many Mongolians who are going hungry. People living in ger district areas buy almost every living essential, including meat, oil, vegetables, rice, and noodles, in grams. They buy 100 grams of meat to feed their children and themselves.  They eat offal because it's cheaper than meat. This is their reality. Instead of pretending that Mongolia is a rich country, why can't the state promote the country's advantages and ask foreigners for help and investment in the industrial sector?

Why do state officials want to deport Ulaanbaatarians to the countryside? Instead of being ashamed of citizens, the UB administrators and police should deal with thieves and suspend their operations instead of putting that burden on businesses and citizens. It would be unfortunate to hear of an ASEM guest being robbed. This is what UB administrators and other state officials should be ashamed of.

If politicians want to impress foreign state officials and attract investors, the nation's political situation must be stable.  Who would want to make an investment in a country where the political situation changes frequently?

As we all know, Mongolia is placing a high priority on the summit, and the country is spending great amount of money on it. Let's hope that ASEM will present many advantages for Mongolia, and that our state officials will not regret any of their decisions.

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Business

A&O, Shearman act on Mongolia's $500 mln MTN programme

April 19 (Asian Legal Business) Shearman & Sterling has advised the government of Mongolia in its $500 million sovereign bond offering, with Allen & Overy serving as legal counsel for joint lead managers Golomt Bank and TDB Capital.

Hong Kong-based partner Alexander Stathopoulos oversaw the transaction for A&O. Local firms MahoneyLiotta and GTs Advocates are also involved in the issuance, handling matters related to Mongolian law for the Mongolian government and the joint lead managers, respectively.

The issuance, which closed last week, was done under the government's Global Medium Term Notes Program. The bonds were sold internationally on a combined Rule 144A / Regulation S basis, with U.S.-qualified institutional buyers accounting for a substantial portion of the total demand. 

Proceeds from the offering will be used to refinance indebtedness, fund budget deficits and finances different projects including infrastructure and roads.

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Mogi: it was DBM not TDB who signed this agreement. Mongolian Economy got it wrong

DBM signs $300m oil trade financing Agreement with Russian VTB

April 19 (news.mn) The Development Bank of Mongolia has concluded a commercial financing contract with Russia's VTB Bank. Today, the signing ceremony took place at the "Puma" building, at 11.00 am. As a result of this contract, Mongolia will be able to accept oil products to the value of USD 300 million from Russia, which will be considered as a loan. From the Mongolian side, this important contract was signed by B.Batdavaa, director of the state foreign currency reserve authority at the Bank of Mongolia, G.Ulziiburen director of the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia, N.Munkhbat, who is CEO of Development Bank and M.Bat-Ulzii who is director of the asset and liability reserve management department.

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First annual BCM summit to be held April 21

April 19 (Mongolian Economy) The Business Council of Mongolia is organising its first annual BCM summit on April 21, 2016 at the Blue Sky Hotel and Tower. The summit's aims are to make creative contributions to the improvement of the business environment, increase trade and investment and ensure the immediate needs of the member organisations.

The Business Council of Mongolia, established in 2007 and currently operating with around 230 local and international member organisations, is a non-governmental organisation serving for its members. The summit will provide a wide spectrum of informative, meaningful and innovative topics to assist professionals and businesses in Mongolia develop and grow in the coming years.

Another purpose of this summit is to identify and raise common issues faced by the business community that need to be addressed by the next government. The proceedings of the summit will be widely distributed to members, political parties and the public, including summary of discussed issues and recommendations for further action and consideration.

The summit agenda consists of a panel on international finance and five other sessions on: mining and industrial supply, business strategies in an economic downturn, capital markets, innovative business trends, and messages to the leaders in government.

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Ulaanbaatar

3 billion to be spent on road repair and maintenance in 2016

April 19 (gogo.mn) Road and related structural repair & maintenance work for 2016 funded by UB road treasury has commenced.

This year 3 billion MNT tugrik has been allocated for UB city's major streets and roads repair and maintenance.

Therefore, UB road treasury will fund patch work of 17900 m2 road areas in 69 streets and repair of 143800 m long road in 23 streets.

Also road signs placement in 5000 m2 area in 47 streets and traffic light installation in 9 locations, 6 bridge tunnels, tunnel repairment works are in plan.

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Diplomacy

Mongolia and India pledge to strengthen inter-parliamentary ties

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) Shortly after her arrival, Ms Sumitra Mahajan and the Speaker of Mongolian legislature signed April 19 a Memorandum of Understanding of cooperation between the State Great Khural (parliament) of Mongolia and the Lok Sabha (House of the People) of the Republic of India.

Execution of the MoU is of great significance in strengthening the legal grounds for cooperation of two legislatures and establishing a favorable environment for further collaboration. The document reassures a continuous mutual support of Mongolia and India in both international and regional arenas.

During the document signing ceremony, the secretary-general of the Secretariat of State Great Khural B.Boldbaatar and his Indian counterpart, at Lok Sabha Secretariat, Mr Anuup Misra inked a cooperation protocol.

Present were a head of the Mongolia-India parliamentary group in the State Great Khural D.Demberel MP; J.Batzandan MP; members of Lok Sabha Rajendra Agrawal, Renuka Butta and Heena Vijaykumar Gavit; members of Rajya Sabha (House of State Council of Parliament of India) Shantaram Naik, Kishan Chand Tyagi; the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India to Mongolia Mr Somnath Gosh.

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Mongolia-India ties strengthen with Lok Sabha Speaker's visitUB Post, April 19

 

Speaker Z.Enkhbold holds officials talks with Lok Sabha Chairwoman

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) The Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) of Mongolia Z.Enkhbold and the Speaker of the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of the Indian parliament Ms Sumitra Mahajan Tuesday held official talks at the State House. Mr Enkhbold thanked Ms Sumitra for paying the official visit to Mongolia, "this is the first visit of India since the two countries brought their relationship into a strategic partnership level in 2015".

High level mutual visits have been regularizing, "and I am satisfied with the Indian Speaker's visit that has been coinciding with the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting in Ulaanbaatar", he said.

In response, Ms Sumitra thanked the Mongolian Speaker for the warm meeting and expressed a satisfaction with broadening of the Mongolia-India long-year relations and with enriching them with new contents. She underlined a historical significance of the state visit of the Indian Premier Narendra Modi to Mongolia last year.

The Mongolia-India relations and cooperation, based on historical and cultural ties, on common values of democracy, on bilateral willingness to ensure regional and international peace and stability, have been intensively developing under by the strategic partnership principle, Mr Enkhbold said. He also underlined that the very first visit of the Indian PM to Mongolia, in times of the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations in 2015, lifted up the friendly relations in IT, renewable energy, industry and agriculture spheres, not mentioning traditional areas such as culture and education.

The Speaker pointed out that the Mongolian FM plans to visit India late this month in order to sign a general credit agreement on a one billion US dollars soft loan granted by India, and that our parliament is to authorize this week the government to discuss and sign this  agreement.

Ms Sumitra said India and Mongolia--similar in historical things and vast territories--have been keeping their traditional friendly relations. India attaches a great importance to supporting the landlocked countries such as Mongolia, Bhutan and Nepal.

One of the main directions of India's foreign policy is to fully support Mongolia that has become an example in the region by its democratic way, she went on. Mongolia has big mineral resources, while India--highly developed technologies. If to combine these advantages, our countries will gain fruitful opportunities and a brighter future in the cooperation, Ms Sumitra said.

Mr Enkhbold said the inter-parliamentary mutual visits immensely contributed not only to expanding of the cooperation between the two legislative bodies, but also to the whole bilateral relations. He stressed am significance of the Indian policy on backing the landlocked countries and said Mongolia is working on establishing the International Think-Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries, in Ulaanbaatar.

Mr Enkhbold expressed a willingness of Mongolia to boost the win-win, mutually-satisfying and sustainable cooperation in economy and trade with India, and emphasized an importance of the Mongolia-India cooperation joint committee in terms of designing frames of the trade and economic collaboration, proper directions and forms, and of supporting the ties between the private sectors.

He congratulated India on its increasing position and influence in the world and in region, and said Mongolia wants to maintain a tradition of supporting each other at international and regional arenas and of strengthening a cooperation within the UN, international and regional organizations. He is confident that Indian high level delegation will participate in the 11th ASEM Summit, which will run here this July.

The high guest supported the Mongolian Speaker's opinions on the bilateral cooperation in several spheres, and said India is attaching a great importance to the development of its remote regions, Mongolia may be willing to learn this experience, as well as that of Research Bureau and the Office at the Indian parliament.

She also said that a delegation, led by the Indian FM, will participate in the 11th ASEM Summit, and congratulated Mongolia on hosting such a grand event.

The Mongolian Speaker expressed a satisfaction with holding these talks, which covered Mongolia-India relations and cooperation, regional and international issues, and said that developing the ties and collaboration with India is one of the priorities of the Mongolian foreign policy.

Present at the talks were D.Demberel MP, a head of the Mongolia-India inter-parliamentary group; B.Boldbaatar, a secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office; D.Gankhuyag, the State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry; Ts.Narantungalag, a head of the External Relations Division at the Parliamentary Office; and other officials.

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Premier Saikhanbileg and Indian Speaker Mahajan discuss new areas of cooperation

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of Indian Parliament's Lower House (Lok Sabha) Ms Sumitra Mahajan on April 19.

Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Mongolia and India, and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a state visit to Mongolia. "As a result of this visit,  a friendship of our countries has been upgraded not only in the traditional sectors, such as culture and education, but also in IT, renewable energy, industry and agriculture," Ch.Saikhanbileg said. 

He expressed a satisfaction with the deepening of the two countries' ties on a strategic level and highlighted that Mongolian side is aspired to boost mutually beneficial and sustainable commercial and economic cooperation with India.

Mr Saikhanbileg went on that the actions of the Mongolian-Indian Cooperation joint committee are of great importance in determining the bilateral commercial and economic collaboration priorities and in promoting the ties between the two private sectors.

Ms Mahajan introduced to him a delegation, consisting of members of the Indian Parliament. She said that, although Mongolia and India are not neighbors with borders shared, they share values in intellect, culture and religion. It is suitable for the two sides that they consolidate a further cooperation and move forward hand in hand in the IT age, she said, adding that Mongolia and India can cooperate in local development, as India has many-year expertise in this sphere due to large yet sparsely distributed population.

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President Elbegdorj receives Speaker of India

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) The leader of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj Tuesday received visiting Ms Sumitra Mahajan, the Speaker of the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of the Indian parliament.

He congratulated Ms Sumitra on coming to take part in the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP9), said he always glad to welcome guests from India and wished her nice stay in Mongolia. The he explained why he is glad to see the Indian guests: "Firstly, our countries have had long-year friendly relations, especially in cultural, religious and inter-citizens' ties; we celebrated our diplomatic ties' 60 years last year; moreover, the Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi visited Mongolia in 2015". 

In response, Ms Sumitra said she is happy to visit Mongolia, and explained why she is paying a courtesy call on the President. Firstly, she said, our countries have been keeping long-year intellectual ties; secondly, India always respects achievements of Mongolia in the democracy. The Mongolia-India relations have lifted to the strategic partnership level, she added. 

The Indian PM Narendra Modi visited Mongolia last year, this is an expression of India people's attitude to Mongolians, she said. Within his visit, our countries brought their ties into the strategic partnership, now the two sides are designing a development of a newer level, she said.  

She believes that a soft loan of one billion US dollars from India will contribute to a development of Mongolian infrastructure, culture and other spheres.  

The Mongolians name India as its Third neighbor. Although our countries are some hundreds kilometres apart, they act as close neighbors in terms of ties in intellectual spirit, culture and education, she said.

After this she appreciated the President Elbegdorj's great contribution to the development of the democracy in Mongolia.     

In response, he noted that a democracy development is not an easy job, and said India is one of the most suitable for Mongolia partners in terms of democracy.

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Mongolia and Turkey to renew agreement on developmental cooperation

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) Cabinet at its regular meeting, held April 18, decided to submit a bill on ratification of Intergovernmental Agreement on Developmental Cooperation between Mongolia and the Republic of Turkey. 

The preceding one--the Intergovernmental agreement on establishing a representative office of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) in Mongolia--was executed in 2004 and ratified by the State Great Khural the same year. TIKA implements its projects and aid programs in over 50 countries, has funded more than 400 projects in Mongolia's infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, healthcare, environmental protection, education and sciences, with over 30 million USD, in a form of non-refundable aid.

In connection with the due termination of this agreement, the new Intergovernmental Agreement will act as the key legal document that governs the financing of projects to be implemented in Mongolia on the non-refundable aid by the Turkish Government and the activities of the TIKA representative office in Ulaanbaatar.

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How Russian Blue Jeans Created a Diplomatic Incident in Mongolia

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insulted his hosts by wearing blue jeans to a red carpet welcome.

April 19 (The Diplomat) Long-haul flights are a degrading experience. We've all been among the stooping, unshaven, red-eyed passengers emerging to unfamiliar sunlight in the state of semi-stupor. To make life a little easier I always follow CNN's travel advice and wear comfortable blue jeans. But I travel in the economy class. Maybe if I had my own airplane, I'd make the point, just before landing, of changing into something more respectable — especially if I were the foreign minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, arriving in Mongolia to a red-carpet welcome.

Oversights. Omissions. Stubborn little details. In the age of the social media, they are blown out of all proportion, so you'd think people would pay more attention. You'd expect that Lavrov, a man of "formidable talents," according to a recent assessment in Foreign Policy, would have enough tact and experience to recognize, as he landed in the aptly-named Chinggis (Genghis) Khaan International Airport on April 14, that he should not wear jeans in the presence of a menacing Mongolian warrior honor guard in faux imperial uniforms.

Images proliferated, as did expressions of outrage. Political commentator and People's Party politician B. Tsogtgerel summed up the prevailing sentiment: "Wearing clothes that one would wear at home when fixing the plumbing, is to snub, to disrespect, in a word, to insult. Lavrov's jeans have become a manifestation of Mongolian international prestige." Lavrov's subsequent effort to undo the damage – he turned up impeccably dressed for a meeting with the Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj, with whom he sniffed ceremonial tobacco in a show of cultural sensitivity – did little to restore the foreign minister's standing in the eyes of public opinion. Although the visit may have become an important stepping stone towards a deeper Russo-Mongolian engagement, the wider Mongolian public won't remember and won't care. They will remember the snub.

The Mongolians live in the past, cherishing memories of Genghis Khan's great empire, when Mongolia was the superpower of Eurasia. Eight hundred years later, Genghis' proud progeny are on the whole a poor lot, ever dependent on their two powerful neighbors, China and Russia. For this reason, perhaps, the Mongolians are hypersensitive to slight. They are ever on the lookout for signs of bullying and disrespect, interpreting even the most innocent oversight as deliberate humiliation. Lavrov should have known better.

He should have known, for instance, that when Ts. Elbegdorj turned up in Moscow in May 2015 for the anniversary of Russia's victory in the World War II, Mongolian commentators were all up in arms about the fact that he was seated too far from Vladimir Putin at the military parade.

He should have remembered the embarrassing highlight of Chinese President Xi Jinping's August 2014 visit to Mongolia, when Xi, in an apparent show of respect, quoted a famous poem by D. Natsagdorj: "This, this is my native land, / The lovely country; My Mongolia." Oh, good grief – what can go wrong when you cite a famous Mongolian poem? The Chinese protocol officials should have pondered the sensitivities, for the Mongolia social media reaction was one of outrage for Xi Jinping daring to call Mongolia the land where he was born. (Hidden irredentism, no doubt!)

Finally, Lavrov could have learned from U.S. President Barack Obama's unhappy experience back in September 2011, when Obama, in a group photo, waved his hand, covering Elbegdorj's face. Obama, perhaps, would hardly remember the episode, but in Mongolia his negligence is still perceived as the deepest of insults.

Little things matter, especially in a fiercely nationalistic, immensely proud nation like Mongolia. Dealing with the Mongolians requires constant attention to minor details, to ceremony, to protocol. And even then, one can never be sure one's actions won't be misconstrued as a hidden insult or a hideous plot. If there is one lesson that Lavrov's little misadventure in Mongolia suggests, it is that of the immense importance of respecting one's neighbors. For Russia, as for any other great power that has habitually dominated and coerced its neighbors, such lessons will take time to sink in.

Sergey Radchenko is Professor of International Relations at Cardiff University and Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. 

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Russia MFA statements:

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Mongolian, Japanese and Chinese media ahead of his visits to these countries, Moscow, April 12, 2016

Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Mongolia

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's opening remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Mongolian Foreign Minister Lundeg Purevsuren Ulan Bator, April 14, 2016

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to questions at the meeting in Mongolia's Foreign Ministry, Ulan-Bator, April 14, 2016

 

Alaska Army National Guard Soldiers deploy to Afghanistan alongside Mongolians

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, April 19 (DVIDS) — Two Alaska Army National Guardsmen deployed to Afghanistan earlier this month as U.S. liaisons in support of the Mongolian Expeditionary Task Forces in Afghanistan. 

Capt. Collin Welch, 1-297th Reconnaissance and Surveillance Squadron, and Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Ring, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), are the twelfth team from the AKARNG to pair with the METF since the arrangement began in 2009. They will serve as tactical advisors and liaisons in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

As liaisons, the team will be the METF's direct link to the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the Base Support Group at the New Kabul Compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, and other sites in the country. 

Welch, of Eagle River, and Ring, of Anchorage, departed Alaska in late March for Fort Bliss, Texas, where they completed approximately two weeks of pre-mobilization training before leaving for Kabul, where they will be deployed for six to nine months. 

"We will be the direct link between U.S. Central Command and the Mongolian Armed Forces," said Welch, who deployed for a similar mission in Africa when he was a member of the Kansas Army National Guard in 2010. 

In Africa, Welch's unit conducted stability operations to help strengthen partner nation security capacity and protect U.S. and Coalition interests.

"On the stability operations mission, we worked with foreign militaries doing military-to-military training," said Welch. "It seemed like a natural progression to take on another partner nation building mission." 

"I've never been to Mongolia, but I love learning about new cultures," explained Welch, who is looking forward to working with his Mongolian counterparts.

Since 2003, the Alaska State Partnership Program has continuously developed and maintained a relationship with the MAF. From deployments to Iraq, where the AKARNG provided liaison officers to partner with METF there, to many joint military exercises and personnel exchanges, Alaska Guardsmen have provided helpful and relevant insight and training to the METF. 

"I am very excited about this opportunity," said Ring, who worked with the MAF in 2013 and 2014 during the multinational peacekeeping exercise, Khaan Quest, held annually near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. 

"I have worked alongside the Mongolians in both command post and field training exercises," explained Ring. "It's great that I can take what I've learned training there and apply it to a real world mission in Afghanistan." 

The strong relationship between Mongolia and the AKARNG prompted the MAF, when they volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan, to request liaison officers from the AKARNG to facilitate their communication and cooperation between the U.S. and NATO elements there. 

Operation Freedom's Sentinel is the new U.S. mission in Afghanistan focusing on training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces. It is the follow-on to Operation Enduring Freedom, the 13-year combat mission that began in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

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Asia House: Briefing with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, May 3

Following the visit of Mongolia's Prime Minister HE Saikhanbileg Chimed in June 2015, Asia House will welcome Mr. Lundeg Purevsuren, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, for a private briefing with Asia House corporate members.

Only two years ago, Mongolia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world and China's biggest trading partner. In 2015, China accounted for 89 per cent of Mongolia's exports. However, exports consisted almost entirely of coal, copper, iron ore, and crude oil and exports of the country have been hit hard by China's economic slowdown. In addition, commodity prices have dropped dramatically. When China sneezes, Mongolia gets a cold, and as a result, Mongolia's GDP growth rate is estimated to fall to 4.2 per cent this year, compared with 18 per cent in 2011.

Sandwiched between two powerful nations, Russia and China, Mongolia's 'third neighbour policy' has been leading to increased diplomatic engagements with Japan, US, Brazil and the EU. Mr. Purevsuren will discuss Mongolia's economic challenges and its opportunities as well as the country's soft power policy.

Mr. Lundeg Purevsuren has been serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia since 2014. Prior to this, he was the National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Mongolia (2009-2014). He also worked at the Department of Europe, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Mongolia (2001-2009); at the Embassy of Mongolia in Bonn, Germany (1995-2000); at the Department of Europe and America, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia (1993-1995); and at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Mongolia (1991-1993). Mr. Purevsuren graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations and Harvard Kennedy School.

This event is open to Asia House corporate members only.

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Health, Education

Cabinet creates working group to tackle measles epidemic

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) Cabinet, on its Monday regular meeting, resolved to set up an emergency working group in charge of management of assessment and prevention of measles outbreak. The group will be formed at the National Emergency Commission.

The governors of localities have been assigned with managing the vaccination for children under age of one. Vaccination will take place through ambulatory and door-to-door services. 

The cabinet also told employers to allow paid leave for mothers with 0-1 age children for two working hours a day.

The Government is budgeting 982 million MNT (495 thousand USD) for fuel, sanitation and decontamination at the medical centers dealing with the measles outbreak.

Some 450 million MNT (230 thousand USD) is considered for purchasing required medicines for measles patients.

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Related:

PM issues decree to resolve measles outbreakUB Post, April 19

 

Mongolia, India speakers attend launch of new cancer treatment apparatus

Ulaanbaatar, April 19 (MONTSAME) The Speaker of parliament Mr Z.Enkhbold; and visiting Speaker of the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of Indian parliament Ms Sumitra Mahajan Monday attended a ceremony of turning on medical apparatuses in the National Center of Oncology (NCO).

The Indian-made "Bhabhatron II" equipment and a planning simulator apparatus of radiotherapy were donated to the NCO from the Prime Minister of India during his visit to Mongolia in 2015. The medical facilities have been installed by Mongolian and Indian engineers and experts.

During the ceremony, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Sport Mr S.Lambaa underlined the medical equipment has brought a big progress in radiotherapy combating cancers, and expressed thanks to the government of India and the Ambassador of India to Mongolia for collaborating in donating the equipment to the NCO.

Ms Sumitra emphasized that this event is an evidence of a development in the bilateral cooperation in all spheres, and underlined an importance of population's health.

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Mongolia launches fundraising campaign to launch its first satellite in 2017

April 19 (gogo.mn) Mongolia's first satellite will be launched in spring of 2017 by National University of Mongolia (NUM) within framework of international "Birds" project, reports NUM.

"Birds" project includes Ghana, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Japan, Nigeria and Japanese government is providing various soft loans to non-satellite countries for them to utilize their labor force, create local database and launch nano satellite.

Within the project's framework, Kyushu university looks after the manufacturing and launching of nano satellite and Mongolian students studying in Japan, NUM teachers and students will cooperate in the works. Ground station will be established in NUM and will receive information, control the satellite. 

Project goal:

  • Take imagery with 100m resolution at 400km altitude
  • Cast news through FM437BHz
  • Identify satellite location
  • Identify dense space light at 400km altitude
  • Connect ground stations into international network

Cost for manufacturing is $100,000 and launching is $225,000. NUM is to finance $50,000 and aims to raise another $50,000 through public donation. And the UHF/VHF ground station will be established in NUM at the cost of $125,000 funded by "Tertiary education in engineering technology" project.

People who donated to support Mongolia's first satellite launch will have their name archived with this historic event.

Donations will be reported through NUM glass account on their official website and people who donated above 100,000 MNT tugrik will receive acknowledgement letter. 

Donation account:

  • Khaan Bank - 5041392345
  • Account name - NUM-satellite (In Mongolian - МУИС-хиймэл дагуул)

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Culture, Society

Former addict, abortionist rescuing children in Mongolia

April 18 (Live Action News) The last thing on Mitchell Tillman's mind 15 years ago was the idea of becoming a missionary to Mongolia. Although he was raised in a Christian home in Birmingham, Ala., Tillman rebelled against his roots and moved out at the age of 17.

After the death of his first wife, and a following marriage that ended in divorce, Tillman spiraled into a lifestyle of drinking and crack cocaine addiction.

"I was a car painter living in the body shop," Tillman said. "I was making $1,000 a week and spending all that on drugs. When some friends of mine overdosed, I started thinking about where you go when you die."

After being caught and arrested for drug use, Tillman cried out to God from a cell in the Birmingham City Jail, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous open letter to Southern church leaders on April 16, 1963.

"I got thinking about what I had done, and called on a God I didn't even believe in, and asked Him to forgive me," Tillman said. "God got me out of the trouble I was in."

Tillman was sentenced as a first-time offender to a rehabilitation program where he got clean from drugs. Shortly after his initial conversion, Tillman's life would abruptly change when he answered the call to go into missions.

At that time, Tillman's father, Tommy, had been a missionary for 40 years and was moving to Mongolia to share the gospel after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"When I got saved, I fell in love with the Lord and wanted to do something for him," Tillman said. "For about two or three months I was looking for a church in Alabama, but I just couldn't get involved there. I told my dad I wanted to be a missionary. I visited Mongolia and I fell in love."

Tillman and his father decided to begin a ministry in the vast, unconquerable Gobi Desert.

"My original goal was to plant one good, active church," Tillman said. "What really got me going was working out in the desert and meeting people who'd never heard the name of Jesus."

Serving the community of nomads in the heart of the Gobi, this church was the first ever to be planted in the region. As well as church planting, Tillman's father began the first free medical clinic in a nomadic city of roughly 7,000 inhabitants.

"The medical challenge is that the country used to be communist. They have no equipment, no training, and no kinds of drugs," Tillman said. "All of their medicine is watered down. They don't want to spend any money on it."

It was during his time in the Gobi Desert that Tillman met a woman who was to change the course of his life and ministry. Baljmaa, a Mongolian Christian, came to work as Tommy Tillman's translator.

As a young woman, Baljmaa had moved to Russia to study nursing.

"God started speaking to her in school in Russia," Tillman said. "She was out in a park one day when her friends talked her into seeing a gypsy palm reader. The palm reader told her she needed Christ!" laughed Tillman. "Baljmaa thought it was a Russian religion."

After finishing her studies and returning home, Baljmaa started working at a Korean restaurant in the Mongolian capitol, Ulaanbaatar. It was then she first heard the gospel, after being invited to a Korean church. It touched her so deeply, she immediately trusted in Christ. Shortly thereafter, she met Mitchell and the two fell in love and were married.

"We were both very young Christians. After 12, years we're still together serving the lord," Tillman said.

After several years in the Gobi, Tillman and his wife decided to permanently relocate to Ulaanbaatar, a city of approximately 1.37 million people, the largest in Mongolia and home to nearly half the country's population.

Recognizing the need for infant care, the Tillmans started an orphanage for abandoned babies.

The shift to caring for abandoned babies was an especially sharp contrast to Baljmaa's days as a nurse. Before her life-changing encounter with Christ, she had often stayed late to perform abortions, which had been illegal until 1986.

"In her ignorance, she thought she was helping people," Tillman said.

Now, Baljmaa is saving those she formerly would have helped abort.

Since establishing the orphanage 11 years ago, the Tillmans have helped to facilitate over 100 adoptions. They are also in the process of adopting three children themselves, ages 10, 9, and 6. 

With the orphanage up and running, the Tillmans turned their eyes to saving even more lives….

Check back next Wednesday to see Part 2 of the Tillmans' story.

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Nature, Environment

Mongolian national movement demands cancellation of exploration licenses near Tuul River

April 19 (UB Post) Although the public doesn't take action every day, most are aware that clean water access and the quality of water have become pressing issues in Mongolia, as well as the rest of the world. However, neglect seems to have brought Tuul River, the main source of water for residents of the capital, on the verge of drying up.

A couple of days ago, general coordinator of Save Our Queen Tuul River National Movement B.Jangar submitted a letter demanding the government and Parliament to pay attention to Tuul River and cancel licenses enabling mineral exploration alongside the river, as it has reportedly dried up in several areas extending to up to three kilometers. Activists claim that industrial waste from factories built up alongside the river played a major role in the drop of water levels and even caused the drying up in some areas.

Since 2005, the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia issued 64 mining licenses to companies. Exploration projects along Tuul River has caused a total of 20 to 30 kilometers of the river to dry up, according to Save Our Queen Tuul River National Movement.

The movement also demanded Parliament to discuss the current state of Tuul River at the regular meeting this Friday, April 22.

"All river beds of Tuul River near Zaisan and Ikh Tengeriin Am Valley have been distributed to companies. Why are private companies owning public property? Companies aren't just staying there. They're cutting the few willows nearby and constructing buildings, causing Tuul River to dry up in some areas. The reason the law specified companies to not operate within 200 meters of river basins is because water supply is located beneath that radius. All of that has been destroyed and now, Tuul River is drying up in some areas," stated B.Jangar.

The Law on Prohibiting Mineral Exploration and Extraction Near Water Sources, Protected Areas and Forests, commonly referred as the long-named law, specifies the protection of bodies of water by means of so-called safety zones, which stretch from 50 to 200 meters from riverbanks.

"Normal safety zones will cover no less than 200 meters from a body of water and health zones will cover no less than 100 meters of area from water sources," states in the long-named law.

According to the Ulaanbaatar Department of Environment and Green Development, a total of 203 exploration licenses have been issued near Tuul River basins across the capital. Head of the department Kh.Marat said that not a single company was licensed to explore or mine in Tuul River safety zones. He explained that the drying up of Tuul River is related to the increasing water consumption of residents of the capital. Reportedly, Ulaanbaatar residents' water supply is drawn from five sources connected to Tuul River.

"We didn't issue 50 illegal licenses. Exploration licenses were granted for 39 areas following the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's order and in accordance with the long-named law approved in 2014. At the moment, these areas haven't been approved for use and are proceeding at construction stages. Operations that might harm the environment haven't been carried out in these areas," says Kh.Marat.

"The companies are exploring within the basin, not in safety zones. They are all located 200 meters outside of bodies of water. There isn't a company exploring within 200 meters."

On the other hand, Save Our Queen Tuul River National Movement claimed that industrial waste and factories being built within 50 meters of the river's banks are causing the drying of the river. B.Jangar said that areas 50 meters from Tuul River are safety zones during floods. The movement demands immediate cancellation of construction, quarry, and pit approvals and licenses, which are reportedly causing Tuul River to dry up. The movement also wants to relocate buildings and factories near Tuul River.

Earlier in March, B.Jangar sent an open letter to President Ts.Elbegdorj requesting him to review Tuul River and discuss issues concerning Tuul River with local residents. The letter listed adverse impacts to the river from nearby factories and their operations.

"It has caused health-related damages to thousands of residents in 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 16th khoroos of Khan-Uul District, not allowing them to live peacefully," the letter read.

The letter warned that the issue will be raised at international level if Tuul River isn't protected and its pollution level continues to increase.

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Mongolia Steps Up in Big Way to Support Snow Leopard Protection

April 19 (Care2) Celebrate, snow leopard fans. The government of Mongolia just made a critical decision that creates a true safe haven for the beloved but endangered big cat.

More than 8,000 square kilometers of prime habitat in the Tost Mountains are now a legally protected Nature Reserve, the Snow Leopard Trust has announced. A Nature Reserve is one of four levels of protected land areas under Mongolia's National Park system.

Beginning immediately, no hunting, construction or mining will be allowed in this new National Reserve. Only traditional economic activities that won't harm the land, such as livestock grazing, will be permitted. The local government has 60 days to work out how to deal with 12 licenses and two active mining sites within park boundaries. Either they will revoke the licenses with compensation, or adjust the park boundary to keep mining activity outside the protected area.

Best of all, the Nature Reserve designation geographically links Tost with two neighboring protected areas on either side. For leopard protection here, nothing could be better.

The Tost Mountains are the ideal location to study these gorgeous animals, as the Snow Leopard Trust's (SLT) researchers well know. Since 2008, they've been in Tost conducting what they call the world's most comprehensive long-term snow leopard research study.

Local communities got behind the idea to better protect Tost many years ago, according to SLT. That local support proved crucial to this effort. Tost became a Local Protected Area in 2010. Locals and SLT have worked since then to achieve even stronger protection. It's a credit to the Great Ikh Hural, Mongolia's parliament, that they heard and understood the need for immediate action.

The Beautiful, Secretive "Mountain Ghost"

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Sports

Hakuho headlines somber Spring Festival in Tokyo

April 19 (Reuters) Nearly 8,000 spectators attended the ceremonial Spring Festival sumo wrestling tournament held outdoors at a controversial war shrine in the Tokyo sunshine on Monday.

The headline act was top-ranked Yokozuna, Hakuho, the most successful sumo wrestler of all-time with a record 36 career tournament wins.

The Mongolian beat compatriot and fellow Yokozuna, Kakuryu in his bout, one of almost 30 that took place between wrestlers who weigh on average over 120 kilograms (265 pounds) and grapple, slap and push for victory in traditional mawashi loincloths.

The history of sumo, Japan's national sport, can be traced back over 1,500 years with its roots in a religious ritual conducted in Shinto shrines to pray for abundant harvests.

The annual Spring Festival at Yasukuni Shrine, seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism by many in Asia, started with a blessing of Shinto's religious gods and wishing peace for all.

Traditional foot-stamping ceremonies took place before the bouts begun.

One fan felt this year's event was more somber than usual after the biggest in a series of earthquakes to hit Japan struck near Kumamoto city early on Saturday.

"This time I hesitated to come and enjoy it after the earthquake disaster," said Mieko Nakamura, who also attended as a spectator last year.

"Some of the wrestlers, however, are from Kumamoto so we decided to come and cheer them up."

The next grand tournament, the Natsu basho, will take place in Tokyo on May 5 and will feature all the sport's top ranked wrestlers.

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