Wednesday, March 19, 2014

[IFC says its OT pledge not subject to expiry, UB preparing for maiden muni, and Rosneft says ready to supply oil via pipeline]

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original


Overseas Market

TRQ closed -0.87% to US$3.42 Tuesday

IFC says Oyu Tolgoi Financing Not Subject to Expiry as March 31 Deadline Looms for Loans

March 18 (Sydney Morning Herald) Australia's export credit agency is one of nearly 20 banks whose commitment to fund Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia is close to expiring, demonstrating the impact that delays are having on the giant copper and gold project.

A plan to expand Oyu Tolgoi has been delayed by disagreements with the Mongolian government, and funding commitments from some commercial banks for stage two of the mine are due to expire within a fortnight.

Rio Tinto secured $US4.2 billion worth of funding for the project from a collection of development banks and commercial banks last year, with the World Bank's International Finance Corporation leading the way with a commitment to lend $US1.4 billion.

The IFC told Fairfax Media this week that its $US1.4 billion pledge was not subject to an expiry date.

''We stand ready to support the project with our approved financing,'' said spokesman Tom Butler.

But commitments from 15 commercial banks are believed to expire on March 31 and it is understood that involvement from Australia's export credit agency EFIC is not open-ended either. EFIC was unable to comment on the expiry date for its funding pledge, but it is believed it expects an investment agreement between Rio and Mongolia to be resolved before June.

Like this week's $US100 million loan to Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton for the Escondida mine, EFIC's involvement with Oyu Tolgoi is believed to be predicated on Australian businesses winning work on the massive project.

EFIC's potential involvement with Oyu Tolgoi is believed to involve more Australian suppliers than the $US100 million loan to Escondida.

Rio chief executive Sam Walsh appears to be unfazed by the looming deadline, saying in recent days that he will not be rushed into an agreement unless the outcome was right. ''We are not about rushing this to meet a deadline,'' he said.

Oyu Tolgoi is predicted by some to run for close to century. Mr Walsh said the deal was like a marriage and could not be rushed into until it was ready.

Batsukh Galsan, chairman of Rio's Mongolian subsidiary, told reporters in Singapore on Tuesday that ''very few'' issues remained between the Mongolian government and Rio Tinto.

''We remain very optimistic,'' he said.

Rio has warned it will face an $883 million write-down on Oyu Tolgoi if the expansion is delayed beyond the end of this year.

Link to article


Rio Writes Down $4.7 Billion Of Unit Operating Mongolia Mine

By Yuriy Humber and Michael Kohn

March 18 (Bloomberg News) Rio Tinto (RIO) Group wrote down the value of a "cash-generating" unit developing Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine by $4.7 billion as an impasse with the government persisted over starting underground operations.

The $1.1 billion pretax impairment of goodwill and $3.6 billion property and equipment writedown are the result of Oyu Tolgoi remaining an open-pit only operation, Rio Tinto said in its annual report published yesterday. A further $800 million may be written down should underground mining fail to begin in the next 12 months, Rio said.

London-based Rio, the world's second-biggest mining company by value, and Mongolia have been at loggerheads over the mine's cost overruns and the long-term financing of Oyu Tolgoi, being developed by unit Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) The construction of the underground section was suspended in August. Mongolia holds 34 percent of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, with Rio-controlled Turquoise Hill owning the remaining stake.

"Given the delays, this move should have been widely anticipated by the market, with the caveat being that if things get back on track the value of those assets could also be written up," said Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer of Ulaanbaatar-based brokerage BDSec.

The suspension of the mine's expansion led to 1,700 staff layoffs at the site, Rio said Aug. 15. The company's post-tax discount rate on cash flow from Mongolia rose to 8.7 percent last year from 8.3 percent in 2012, Rio said in the annual report.

"A slightly higher discount rate is probably justified," Cousyn said. "Frankly, 8.7 is not overly high, but increasing the discount rate is a reasonable thing to do considering how long the dispute between Rio and the government has gone on."

Link to article


Rio Tinto pays US$7.5b in taxes last year: Australia $5.7b, Canada $580m, Chile $422m, Mongolia $244m

March 19 (Herald Sun) LAST year Rio Tinto poured A$6.3 billion in tax into Australian federal and state government coffers. It paid a further A$1.3 billion in personal tax on behalf of its workers.

Link to article


Rio Tinto rumours boost value of Oyu Tolgoi

March 18 (FinanceAsia) Rumours that British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto is considering a takeover of Mongolian miner Turquoise Hill are putting pressure on it to make a definitive statement.

Rio owns 50.8% of the Canadian-listed project company (which in turn owns 66% of the $6 billion Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper project) and in early March was widely reported to be considering an offer for the remainder of the company. Shares in Turquoise Hill rose 20% during the week of March 3.

Such excitement is understandable – Oyu Tolgoi is the world's biggest undeveloped copper-gold project and sits just 80 kilometres from the border with China, the world's biggest buyer of both metals.

The open-pit phase of the project started production last year but disputes between the government and Rio Tinto have delayed approval of the second phase, which involves excavating deep underground and comprises roughly 85% of the project's value.

Rumours about an acquisition are reasonable because a single owner of the asset would find it much easier to negotiate with the government. It would also make sense for Rio to own Turquoise Hill outright rather than share its spoils with unrelated shareholders, who are already at the mercy of Rio anyway.

"I love the asset but hate the corporate structure," said Travis Hamilton, founder of Khan Investment Management, a fund that has specialised in Mongolian investments since 2010.

However, Rio's desire to buy out other shareholders in Turquoise Hill, including founder Robert Friedman, puts it in a difficult position. The ideal timing would be to make an offer as soon as possible after the second phase is authorised. "The longer they leave it, the higher the price they're going to pay," Hamilton said.

The company cannot make a bid before the government approval but it also cannot deny its interest because that would force it into standing down for at least a year, by which time the share price could be much higher. For now, it is trying to stay as quiet as possible.

"Since the trucks started rolling in July, Turquoise Hill could have easily raised equity capital but it hasn't," said Hamilton. "Every mining company knows that the way to promote is to have a big party at PDAC [an annual mining industry convention held this year on March 2-5], but they had no presence."

The keeping-quiet strategy has worked so far. The share price, which was close to $30 in 2011 before the dispute with the government, is now less than $4 - representing a difference of $50 billion in terms of market capitalisation.


So why hasn't Rio done anything? The truth is that it is stuck. The second phase cannot start until it is authorised by the government and the government says it won't do that without a feasibility study that Turquoise Hill says won't be ready until the summer. Meanwhile, the project's $4 billion syndicated financing expires on March 31 and cannot be released until the authorisation comes through.

That financing deal has already been extended once but the syndicate of banks is unlikely to do so again given the movement in interest rates since last year. Renegotiating a new package would further delay the process.

Most of the reports about a rumoured acquisition have mentioned "industry sources" or similar but the speculation seems to have started after a mining company advertised several senior positions for "the next phase of a major ... mining project in Mongolia."

The details left little doubt about which project it was - Amec, the engineering and project management firm that posted the advert, has been working on Oyu Tolgoi's feasibility study since 2010 and mentioned the progression to underground mining several times.

Foreign investors in Mongolia have become so used to frustration and delay that any sign of optimism out of Ulaanbaatar is taken as good news. "It's encouraging to see preparations for success versus failure," Hamilton said.

But in spite of Amec's optimism, the project is still stuck in a quandary until either Rio or the government backs down.

In Mongolia's interest

The Mongolians will probably blink first. Their currency has weakened more than 25% since the start of 2013 and unemployment continues to be a problem. Were it ever to reach full production, the Oyu Tolgoi project would contribute as much as 30% of the country's economic output.

"If the government says 'Yes', it's a magic solution for them," said Hamilton, who is optimistic that a newly pragmatic government will keep the project alive. "They did a roadshow through Hong Kong and Singapore last year and the president's message was: 'We made a mistake, but now it's time to do the right thing."'

That included a new foreign investment law that removed the distinction between domestic and foreign investors and a new securities law that will make it easier for foreigners to trade Mongolian securities.

These reforms have created a solid foundation for renewed foreign investment and with no elections due until 2016 the country has a window of opportunity to get things done. Even so, many are still waiting to see what happens with Oyu Tolgoi.

Hamilton says that the project's success is critical for the country. If Rio Tinto can't make it in Mongolia, what chance does anyone else have?

The government should be keen to dispel that idea.

Link to article


NRU closed flat at 0.6c Tuesday


March 18 -- Newera Resources Limited (ASX: NRU) is pleased to advise that it has commenced drilling on its phase one drilling program at the Ulaan Tolgoi project located in the South Gobi basin in Southern Mongolia.

In phase one of the program, it is proposed to drill two diamond holes of approximately 300 metres depth each, into two separate near surface seismic anomalies identified by Logantek and Nordic Geological Solutions. Successful completion of phase one will be a pre-curser to commencing phase two of a further 1,400 metres of diamond drilling at three separate locations along the seismic survey lines identified to have strong underlying seismic anomalies.

Newera has commenced drilling on UTPDH01 (line A) first, to be followed by UTPDH03 (line B). At least the first 50 metres of each hole will be drilled using PCD (open hole diamond - no core) to be followed by cored diamond drilling to the bottom of hole.


During June 2013, Newera entered into a formal Joint Venture ("JV") covering a 43,000 hectare Exploration Licence in the South Gobi region of Mongolia.

Newera has now earned an initial 51% interest in Ulaan Tolgoi project through earning a 51% interest in CMNM LLC - the Mongolian registered company holding 100% of the Ulaan Tolgoi exploration licence as its only asset.

Newera now has a right to earn a further 19% interest in CMNM LLC through a further expenditure of US$1 million, to take Newera's beneficial interest in Ulaan Tolgoi up to 70%.

Newera looks forward to a positive outcome to the drilling at Ulaan Tolgoi where success in this initial exploratory drilling program holds the potential for the discovery of a large scale company making coal project close to the Chinese border.

For more detailed information, please refer to Company's most recent investor presentation which was lodged with the ASX on 14 March 2014.

Link to release


MOU closed +50% to 0.3c, intra-day high 0.4c

Modun Announces Placement Of Shares at 0.2 Cents to Raise A$510,000

March 18 -- Modun Resources Limited ("Modun" or "the Company," ASX:MOU) is pleased to announce that it has entered into placement agreements to raise $510,000 via the issue of 255m shares at the current market price of 0.2c each.  

Subscribers include a number of existing shareholders. Family interests associated with a director, Hugh Warner, have agreed to subscribe for $200,000. The share subscriptions by entities associated with Hugh Warner are subject to shareholder approval.  

The funds raised will be used for general working capital.

Link to release


PML last traded at 2.5c Monday

ASX Grants Waiver to Parmelia to Issue 5.5 Million Shares Before 21 March

Marhc 18, Parmelia Resources Ltd. (ASX:PML) -- The Company advises that the ASX has granted a waiver from ASX Listing Rule 14.7 in relation to the issue of 5,500,000 fully paid ordinary shares in the capital of the Company as approved by shareholders at the general meeting held on 7 November 2013.  

The terms of the waiver are that the shares must be issued no later than 21 March 2014 and otherwise on the same conditions as approved by shareholders on 7 November 2013.  

In keeping with the ASX waiver, the Company intends to issue the shares prior to 21 March 2014.

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE News for March 18: Top 20 -1.58%, Turnover 15.8 Million

Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Tuesday, a total of 20 thousand and 311 shares of 25 JSCs were traded costing MNT 15 million 795 thousand and 345.85.

"Remikon" /14 thousand and 552 units/, "Moninjbar" /2,021 units/, "Gobi" /792 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /701 units/ and "Berkh Uul" /524 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Gobi" (MNT five million 149 thousand and 500), "Remikon" (MNT two million 227 thousand and 608), "Berkh Uul" (MNT one million 915 thousand and 220), "APU" (MNT one million 732 thousand and 012) and "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT one million and 073 thousand).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 659 billion 458 million 533 thousand and 050. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 16,459.71, decreasing by MNT 264.29 or 1.58% against the previous day.

Link to article

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BoM MNT Rates: March 18 Close





































March MNT Chart:


Link to rates


BoM FX auction: Declines USD, CNY bid offers, accepts US$76.5 million MNT, CNY10 million CNY swap offers

March 18 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 18th, 2014 the BOM has received from local commercial banks bid offer of USD and CNY. The BOM has not accepted any offer.

On March 18th, 2014, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement offer in equivalent to 76.5 million USD and CNY Swap agreement offer of 10.0 million CNY from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.

·         FX Auction Statistics

Link to release


8% Mortgage Program Update: 17,241 Citizens' ₮487.6B Refinanced, ₮919.6B Newly Issued for 16,307 Citizens

March 18 (Cover Mongolia) As of March 18, 487.6 billion (₮487.5 billion as of March 14) existing mortgages of 17,241 citizens (17,239 as of March 14) were refinanced at 8% out of 845 billion (844.9 billion as of March 14) worth requests.

Also, 919.6 billion (₮910.2 billion as of March 14) new mortgages of 16,307 citizens (16,131 citizens as of March 14) were issued at new rates out of 957.7 billion (₮948.1 billion as of March 14) worth requests.

Link to release (in Mongolian)


BoM and ADB to Implement Payment System Modernization Project in Mongolia

March 18 ( On March 14, 2014, Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar and Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Robert Schoellhammer have signed a 20 million USD Loan Agreement on Payment System Modernization Project in Mongolia.

In 2012, the Government of Mongolia applied for a loan in order to improve the payment system and following the review in December 2012, the ADB Board approved the Loan on November 26, 2013.

The Project will be carried out by the Central Bank of Mongolia for the period of two years and the Government will allocate additional 2.5 million USD as investment

The Project is proposed to:

1.    Strengthening the interbank payment system infrastructure for all interbank payments and transactions of other service providers in compliance with the Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures;

2.    Providing technical support to develop capacity of project implementation unit and system participants and to increase new services' utilization;

3.    Enhancing requisite legal and regulatory framework enabling interoperability, branchless banking, and secure mobile financial services, while ensuring consumer protection and preventing money laundering, financing of terrorism and systemic settlement failure.

The Project is expected to be completed by December 31, 2016.

According to Agreement, Mongolia will pay a commitment charge of 0.15% per annum and Loan has a principal repayment period of 15 years. Interest and other charges on the Loan shall be payable semiannually on February 15 and August 15 in each year between 2019 and 2033.

Link to article


Russia Ready to Supply Oil via Pipeline to Mongolia, Says Rosneft President

March 18 ( On March 17, 2014, Russian delegation led by the President and Chairman of the Management Board of Rosneft Company, Igor Ivanovich Sechin has conducted a three-hour working visit to Mongolia and during the stay in Ulaanbaatar, President I.Sechin met with President Ts.Elbegdorj, Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag and Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag respectively.

During the meeting with President of Rosneft, Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag expressed his appreciation to the Russian side for supplying oil products to Mongolia for many years and mentioned that the Government of Russia agreed to provide petroleum up to one million ton per year during the XVII Intergovernmental Committee meeting held in Moscow last November. Minister also underlined that a certain part of transit transport of crude oil from Russia to China via Mongolian territory would be restored.

Moreover, Minister thanked Russian delegation for studying to supply with crude oil to Mongolia's first oil refinery plant in Darkhan under three-part exchange program being experienced today on international market. In addition, he said an opportunity to link natural gas pipe via Mongolian territory is still open.

Minister D.Gankhuyag further noted to accelerate the process of establishing an independent joint venture to utilize the Asgat silver deposit and in the first phase it is needed to run experimental works and select appropriate technology. Also, he acknowledged that Mongolian representatives of the Russia-Mongolia joint venture of "Erdenet" Mining Corporation will be administered by "Erdenes MGL" company. The Government of Mongolia resolved to adhere a general policy to unite all state-owned enterprises running activities in the field of mining under "Erdenes MGL" authorization that aims to improve corporate governance and independent professional guidance.

In response, President I.Sechin said the friendly brotherhood relations have been entering into a new level of partnership and emphasized the full potentiality of collaboration in some strategically important projects under the terms of mutual beneficial and mutual respect principles. Also, he mentioned the Rosneft's oil reserves and crude oil unit cost is recorded as low as compared to other countries.

Moreover, President I.Sechin noted the railway oil transportation expenses from Russia to Mongolia are estimated high cost, thus the Government of Russia is ready to implement a long-term contract on supplying oil products via pipeline and in order to realize this issue parties should study and exchange information, and Russia's willingness to partner with Mongolia in oil sector.

During meeting with President Ts.Elbegdorj and Premier N.Altankhuyag, parties exchanged the possibility of increasing the supply of products from "Rosneft" and as one of the possible areas of cooperation discussed was the delivery of packed bitumen production as well as the development of new logistics solutions.

Link to article

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Hunnu Air Plans to Open Direct Flights between Novosibirsk and Ulaanbaatar

March 18 ( According to Komsomolskaya Pravda press release from March 17, 2014, Mongolia's Hunnu Air is pledging to open a new route from Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport to Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

However, the direct flight launching issue is not resolved yet and under discussion, but parties negotiated during the Routes Asia 2014, the largest route development forum for the entire Asia region held in Kuching, Malaysia on March 09-11, 2014.

Further the source said, the direct flight between Ulaanbaatar and Novosibirsk does not exist and in order to reach the capital city of Mongolia, Russian travelers had to take a flight with two stops in Russia and China about 24 hours that cost approximately 25,000 RUB or 683 USD and Novosibirsk authorities deem the new route would be more cost-effective and open further destinations to Beijing and Dubai.

Link to article


Mining Minister Attends Zinc-Lead Enrichment Plant Opening in Bayan-Ulgii

March 18 ( On March 10-12, 2014, Mining Minister D.Gankhuyag attended in the opening ceremony of Dulaankhar zinc-lead enrichment plant in Bayan-Ulgii Aimag, the western region's largest and most advanced manufacturing facility plant.

According to feasibility studies, the Dulaankhar zinc and lead mine located in the territory of Nogoonnuur Sum of the Aimag was developed to use for a period of 16 years and within the term, it expects to concentrate a total of 9,843.3 thousand tons of ore, of which 128.06 thousand tons of lead, 456.81 thousand tons of zinc, and 0.083 tons of silver respectively.

At the opening ceremony, MP A.Bakei, representatives of China Embassy to Mongolia, Altai province of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Bayan-Ulgii Aimag and China's Chi Hua Group's Yushengming LLC were present.

During the working visit, Mining Minister also got familiarized with Asgat Silver Deposit, the site was negotiated to realize into economic circulation during the XVII Intergovernmental Committee between the Governments of the Russian Federation and Mongolia in November 2013, and currently parties working on establishing a joint company, where Mongolia to own 51% and Russian side the rest of 49%.

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Mogi: as was mentioned during this event, UB budget will have to be decoupled from state budget in order to avoid the Fiscal Stability Law mandated government debt limit, which is capped at 40% of GDP this eyar

Ulaanbaatar will issue municipal bonds

March 18 (Business-Mongolia) Today, a joint forum was held between World Bank and Ulaanbaatar City Government under the agenda "Bond: A new source of financing". City Mayor E.Bat-Uul announced that the City Government is planning to issue municipal bonds. City Government has been working with the World Bank in the past year to facilitate the necessary preparations. Deputy Director of City Government's Economic Department N.Bataa mentioned that depending on state budget for city's renovation and development is limited, reasoning that municipal bond is the answer.

First, the city of Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia, with the population of over 1.2 million, will have to establish credit ratings by international agencies. Soon after the ratings, the City Government will submit and seek approval from the government. The main goal is to support SMEs; officials emphasized.

Link to article


Ulaanbaatar to Launch 10-Year Ger District Redevelopment Program to This Year with ADB

Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city E.Bat-Uul gave a report about works to be done this year, at the "Hours of great construction" weekly meeting on Monday.

Beginning his report, the Mayor said a programme on developing the UB city's ger areas and investment will launch this year. This programme will be co-implemented by the Asian Development Bank within ten years in three phases. In the first one, 16.6 billion togrog worth works will start to erect sub-centers near Bayankhoshuu and Selbe River.

The ger areas re-development will be done with a participation of the private sector. The work will cover 970 hectares areas in 12 places in the city's five districts in the first turn, Bat-Uul said. Apart from it, 15 thousand 309 hectares at 52 locations will be owned by people for family use, and cadastre,  partial planning and ownership works will begin soon, he said.

The Mayor also reported that a foundation will be created to support small-sized business, small- and middle-sized productions. Some 15.2 billion togrogs have been budgeted, and a related rule is being worked out. About 100 million togrog is expected to be allocated to each khoroo (smallest administrative unit in UB), the Mayor said.

As for the road works, 36 projects and measures will be implemented this year to improve the auto road network. About 20 km roads were repaired and expanded in the city last year, and 55-km roads will be expanded in 2014. Over 44-km new roads and footbridges will be constructed under a financing of MNT 74 billion, the Mayor said.

Then he spoke about a programme on creating metro in the UB city and the "Smart UB" programme that will provide people with an access to necessary information from their home.

Link to article


Mayor Establishes Fund to Meet Target of Supplying 80% of Ulaanbaatar's Milk Locally

Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) The City's Livestock Protection Fund has been founded under a resolution issued by E.Bat-Uul, the City Mayor.

This is a part of action plan of the City Mayor for 2012-2016 to supply 80 percent of the city's needs in milk with the domestic production.

The Deputy Mayor for Ecology and Green development matters T.Bat-Erdene has been appointed the head of the fund.

The fund will realize aims, reflected in the livestock national programs, develop and support an intensified livestock farming, run researches, and determine pastures capacity. 

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INSIGHT: Meeting with abductee's daughter could propel Tokyo-Pyongyang talks

March 17 (The Asahi Shimbun) The secret meeting in Mongolia between the parents and the daughter of a Japanese woman considered a symbol of the abduction issue could prove a turning point in Japan and North Korea relations.

Shigeru and Sakie Yokota have been at the forefront of the movement by families seeking repatriation of loved ones who were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

Their daughter, Megumi, was abducted from Niigata city in November 1977 when she was only 13.

The Foreign Ministry announced March 16 that the Yokotas met with their granddaughter, Kim Eun Gyong, in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, between March 10 and 14. It was the first time that the Yokotas have met the 26-year-old daughter of Megumi.

Officials of the foreign ministries of the two nations sat in on the meeting, the contents of which have not been divulged.

At a March 17 news conference in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, where the Yokotas reside, Sakie said: "Eun Gyong resembled Megumi when she was young. It was a miraculous time that made me feel like I was dreaming."

Eun Gyong's 10-month-old daughter, the couple's great-granddaughter, also was present at the meeting in Ulan Bator, the Yokotas confirmed.

The Yokotas said the abduction issue was not discussed during the meeting.

Because of their advanced age--Shigeru is 81, while Sakie is 78--the Yokotas had long sought a meeting with their granddaughter. However, the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea had opposed such a meeting in North Korea because of fears Pyongyang would utilize the occasion to bolster its claim that Megumi died in April 1994. The Japanese government has not accepted that statement on the grounds that definitive evidence has not been provided.

The meeting in Mongolia was the result of compromises made by both Japan and North Korea.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has placed priority on resolving the abduction issue. For its part, North Korea is seeking an easing of economic sanctions to help prop up its impoverished economy.

According to several government sources, Abe played a leading role in bringing about the latest meeting.

Through diplomatic channels, the proposal was made by Tokyo to hold a meeting between the Yokotas and their granddaughter in a third-party nation.

Pyongyang had long called on the Yokotas to visit North Korea to meet Kim Eun Gyong. However, Japan was opposed to such a venue because officials believed North Korea would use the occasion to convince the Yokotas that their daughter was dead and bring an end to the abduction issue.

The selection of Mongolia as the site of the meeting was a deliberate one. Mongolia has diplomatic relations with North Korea, and the ties are said to be good.

The Abe administration has also taken steps to deepen its ties with Mongolia.

In March 2013, Abe met with Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj in Ulan Bator and asked for his cooperation in resolving the abduction issue. When Elbegdorj visited Japan in September, Abe invited him to Abe's private residence for a meeting that lasted more than an hour.

The meeting in Mongolia was apparently agreed to after at least three secret meetings between Japanese and North Korean officials between December and February.

Japanese officials believe North Korea agreed to holding the meeting in Mongolia because it hoped for a lifting of economic sanctions as well as economic assistance.

With Kim Jong Un now in his third year as North Korean leader, Pyongyang is desperate to show its people that progress is being made to improve their lives.

In recent months, North Korea has been taking a more cooperative stance toward Japan and South Korea.

On March 3, a meeting was held in Shenyang, China, between officials of the Red Cross societies of Japan and North Korea. Pyongyang not only proposed that meeting, the first in about 18 months, but also asked that Foreign Ministry officials of the two nations be allowed to sit in. North Korea also agreed to an informal meeting between those ministry officials outside of the Red Cross meeting.

A second meeting of officials of the two Red Cross societies is scheduled to be held March 19-20. There is also speculation that North Korea might agree to the resumption of talks between officials at the ministerial bureau director level.

The Abe administration's emphasis on the abduction issue makes Japan, in a sense, an easier partner with which to seek a compromise.

The meeting between the Yokotas and their granddaughter could be seen as a step toward resolution of the abduction issue, and Japan might provide economic assistance to North Korea.

Such a stance could come into conflict with the United States, which has said that the issues of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development programs must be resolved first.

Although the association of families with members who have been abducted was not informed beforehand about the Yokotas' trip to Mongolia, members expressed their understanding because of the couples' advanced age and because the meeting was not held in North Korea.

Link to article


Abductee's daughter is favorite of Kim's sisterKorea JoongAng Daily, March 19


Mongolia-Cuba Consultative Meeting Held, to Strengthen Traditional, Friendly Ties

Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) The second consultative meeting between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and Cuba ran Monday in Ulaanbaatar.

The meeting was co-chaired by D.Gankhuyag, Mongolia's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and by Miguel Angel Ramirez Ramos, the director of Cuba's Foreign Ministry Department of Asia-Pacific Affairs.

The parties confirmed that they intend to strengthen the bilateral traditional and friendly relations, to activate the cooperation in the education and sport sectors, and to develop the ties in the agriculture and health spheres. The countries also agreed to support each other on the multilateral cooperation platform.

Within his visit to Mongolia, Mr Ramos plans to meet with A.Bakei MP, a member of the Mongolia-Cuba Friendship Group at parliament; L.Tumenjargal, the Vice Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism; and authorities of the Ministry of Health and General Prosecutor Office. 

Link to article


Finance Minister visits South Korea, shares experience on tax management, services

March 18 ( Mongolian government officials lead by the Finance Minister, Ch.Ulaan, are visiting South Korea`s Strategy and Finance Ministry and the National Tax Service on March 17th to 19th. 

For the visit to South Korea by Finance Minister Ch.Ulaan individual talks were arranged with South Korea`s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Strategy and Finance, Hyun Oh-seok, and the head of South Korea's National Tax Service (NTS), Kim Duk-joong. The parties exchanged opinions on sharing experiences of e-tax services, taxation management and sustainable mechanism of bilateral cooperation between the Ministries.

Link to article


Visa free travel between Turkey-Mongolia from April 11

March 18 ( Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports in Mongolia and Poland are now able to travel to each other's countries without a visa. The signing of the "Agreement of Visa free requirements for Diplomatic and Official passport holders between the Government of Mongolia and Poland" was signed on June 29th, 2011 to be effective from April 4th, 2014, allows travel for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days. 

Misunderstandings had arisen from the use of the term "official passport" in the implementation of the previous "Agreement of Visa free requirements for Diplomatic and Official passport holders between the Government of Mongolia and Poland". An official passport is translated into English as a "service passport", which meant that some official passport holders faced misunderstandings at Polish Customs. So both sides decided to review the Agreement to fix the confusing terminology. 

In addition, "the intergovernmental agreement between Turkey and Mongolia on the mutual exemption of visas" was signed on October 10th, 2013 in Ankara. The agreement came into effect on April 11th. Nationals of each country can now travel for up to 30 days within a period of 180 days without a visa under the visa-free term. 

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Mongolia Cultural Week Kicks Off in Hong Kong Today

Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) Mongolian week events kicked off in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

This series of events aim at promotion of Mongolian folk art and nomadic culture, as well as the tourist flows to the country.

The weekly events include a promotion activity for "Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire" book co-published by Asia Society organization and Smithsonian Institution, an interview with Mr Carl Robinson, an author of "Mongolia: Nomad Empire of the Eternal Blue Sky", a presentation of Mongolia for students and teachers of Hong Kong International School, a seminar on khoomei--a unique throat singing, and art performances.

Khosogton, a Mongolian ethnic-ballad group, is also planning to stage a "Mongolian week" concert during this Week.

The organizers of the action are World' Mongolian Cultural Association and Hong-Kong-based organizations such as Asia Society, Royal Geographical Society and Odyssey Publications, in partnership with Mongolia's Consulates-Generals in Hong Kong and Macao.

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Social, Environmental and Other

Mongolia economic boom highlights wealth gap

Thriving economy puts strain on capital, causing pollution, urban poverty, and widening wealth gap.

March 18 (Al Jazeera) Mongolia has been ranked as one of the fastest growing economies in the world due in part to its mining industry, which accounts for a third of its GDP.

But there are concerns about how fast things are changing.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reports from Ulaanbaatar.

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Mongolia women takes 5th place at FILA Freestyle Wrestling World Cup

Ulaanbaatar, March 18 (MONTSAME) The national selected team of women's freestyle wrestling took 5th place in the Female Freestyle Wrestling World Cup 2014 held last weekend in Tokyo, Japan.

Our team included E.Narangerel (48 kg), E.Sumya (53 kg), S.Byambatseren (55 kg), S.Tserenchimed (58 kg), T.Monkhtuya (60 kg), O.Nasanburmaa (63 kg), B.Odonchimeg (69 kg) and O.Burmaa (75 kg).

The Japanese team won the competition, achieving the Cup for the sixth time. Japan was followed by Russia and China.

Our national team grabbed a silver medal in the previous World Cup in Ulaanbaatar city.

FILA Wrestling World Cup is an international wrestling competition among teams representing member nations of the FILA. The championships have been conducted every year since the 1973 tournament. The World Cup began as a dual-meet competition for the top teams on each continent, but now features the top teams in the rankings of the previous year's world championships.

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SUMO/ Mongolians Hakuho, Harumafuji, Kakuryu mark easy wins on Day 10

March 18 (The Asahi Shiimbun) The Mongolians continued to dominate their opponents at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka on March 18, with yokozuna duo Hakuho and Harumafuji--who lead with unbeaten records--and ozeki Kakuryu all notching convincing wins.

Meeting almost no resistance, Harumafuji thrust out komusubi Shohozan (4-6) for his 10th win. The yokozuna landed his thrusts potently on Shohozan's chest, raising his center of gravity and making him unable to do anything but retreat.

Hakuho threw sekiwake Kotooshu to the dirt, to no one's surprise. Hakuho has been almost perfect throughout this tournament and is the defending champion, gunning for his 29th career title. Kotooshu, meanwhile, has lost all his bouts except for his opening-day match against rank-and-filer Kaisei.

Mongolia's third-best wrestler, Kakuryu, was driven back at the face-off by komusubi Toyonoshima but kept his cool, maneuvered to the side and blasted back onto the offensive with a forward drive that sent Toyonoshima out of the ring for his sixth loss. Kakuryu is holding his ground well, with just one loss that he suffered on the tournament's third day, to Okinoumi.

Kotoshogiku grimaced in pain after he was tossed to the dirt by No. 3 maegashira Takayasu (4-6). The ozeki is fighting through injuries, and this was the first time he has ever been beaten by Takayasu. He drops to 5-5 and will be under a lot of pressure to clear the eight wins he needs to stay out of trouble when the next tournament rolls around and not worry about his rank. Takayasu, on the other hand, is trying to get into position to move up to komusubi.

Looking very much like the formidable ozeki he is, Kisenosato gave No. 4 maegashira Ikioi no openings and won with ease. Typical of Kisenosato, the win wasn't very flamboyant, but it was strong and nearly flawless. He simply took a conventional grappling approach and played it to its fullest. Kisenosato is 8-2, while Ikioi is 4-6.

Sekiwake Goeido, a talented but often overlooked veteran, won his eighth bout convincingly and is now looking to see if he can finish in double digits. He won by getting a strong hold on No. 2 maegashira Okinoumi's belt and plowing forward until it was over. Okinoumi has only two wins.

"I'm fighting my own style," Goeido said. "I just hope to keep adding on the wins."

On March 19, he takes on Hakuho.

Sekiwake Tochiozan (5-5) took down top maegashira Endo more easily than expected, absorbing his face-off and taking control until the young wrestler's knees buckled at the edge. The loss is the second in a row for Endo and his sixth of the tournament. He is still adjusting to the tougher competition now that he has to face yokozuna and ozeki opponents, and is starting to show some wear and tear from what has been a hard 10 days.

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Dancing Against Violence: Canada Supports Girls' Rights in Mongolia

March 10 (Embassy of Canada to Mongolia) Canada spent several months promoting the rights of girls in Mongolia, speaking out against violence and supporting projects related to the International Day of the Girl Child through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

Aiming to bring the voices of girls to the ears of the country's decision-makers, the Canadian Embassy supported the Princess Centre of Mongolia in engaging thousands of girls and young women in the protection of their rights, through a campaign called Girls are Not the Target of Violence.

A day-long Young Women's Voice Forum brought hundreds of participants together to tackle the issue, allowing girls the opportunity to communicate directly with those in positions of power. At the forum, young women pushed for better support and more accessible services for girls who are victims of sexual violence.

The campaign curated a photo exhibition to document the seriousness of violence in schools, domestic and sexual violence, street harassment and assault, and the influence of patriarchy on Mongolian girls' lives. The exhibition also detailed the risks of early pregnancy and the tragedy of life-threatening abortions.

The photo exhibition featured 100 photos, presented by the Princess Centre and the Beautiful Hearts Campaign and supported by the Canada Fund. It has since been invited to be exhibited in Japan.

The Canadian funding also helped the campaign distribute thousands of pamphlets, buttons and posters, and to produce a powerful video in which Mongolian girls shared their experiences and spoke out against threats and violence.

Flash mobs played a big part in the campaign, and videos capturing them are available on YouTube. The flash mobs involved girls at 42 different schools dancing to a song composed especially for the campaign, "We Are Not a Doll".

The flash mobs and the testimonials video were both featured on Mongolian television stations and chronicled elsewhere in the media.

Around the world, young women are standing up for their rights to live safe and healthy lives. Canada is committed to the social and economic empowerment of women, and works to combat violations of women's rights such as child, early and forced marriages and sexual assault. There remains much work to do, but initiatives such as this serve as inspiration in the pursuit of rights for women worldwide.

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