Rajnath Singh, the first Indian Defense Minister to visit Mongolia, on Tuesday met the country’s top leadership, including President Ukhnagin Khuralsukh, and discussed ways to further deepen the multi-faceted strategic partnership between the two countries.
Defense Minister Singh is on a five-day visit from Monday to Mongolia and Japan to expand India’s strategic and defense ties with the two countries in the backdrop of regional security metrics and geopolitical turmoil.
Singh’s visit to Mongolia from September 5 to 7 is the first visit by an Indian Defense Minister to an East Asian country.
“Excellent meeting with the President of Mongolia, H.E.U. Khuralsukh in Ulaanbaatar. Recall my last meeting with him in 2018 when he was the Prime Minister of the country. We look forward to further deepening our multi-faceted strategic partnership with Mongolia. Fully committed.”
“It was a pleasure interacting with the Speaker of the Mongolian Parliament, Mr. Jhandanshatar. Appreciate him for his continued support in promoting and expanding our shared heritage of Buddhism,” he said in another tweet.
Earlier, Singh and his Mongolian counterpart Saikhanbayar Gursed had in-depth discussions on giving further impetus to India-Mongolia defense cooperation.
“During the first visit to Mongolia by @DefenceMinIndia, Hon. Shri @rajnathsingh was given a guard of honor and held extensive discussions with Mongolian Defense Minister Gen Saikhanbayar to intensify defense cooperation and strengthen strategic partnership,” the Indian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar tweeted.
From Mongolia, the Defense Minister will travel to Japan for a two-day visit from 8 to 9 September. The ‘2+2’ dialogue is scheduled to take place on September 8. The dialogue is taking place five months after the Japanese prime minister. Fumio Kishida visited India for the annual India-Japan summit.
Announcing Singh’s visit to Mongolia on Sunday, the Defense Ministry said it would further strengthen defense cooperation and strategic partnership between the two countries.
“Both democracies have a common interest in promoting peace and prosperity across the region,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said that India and Mongolia share a strategic partnership and defense is a key pillar of this partnership.
Bilateral defense ties with Mongolia have been expanding over time, with extensive contacts between the two countries, including joint working group meetings, military-to-military exchanges, and capacity building and training programs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mongolia in May 2015, giving a new impetus to relations in various fields, including defense and security.
During the visit, India announced a US$ 1 billion line of credit to Mongolia for infrastructure development and upgraded its ties to a strategic partnership. Joint Indo-Mongolia military exercise ‘Nomadic Hathi’ is held annually.
The last two editions of the exercise were conducted in September 2018 in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) and in October 2019 in Himachal Pradesh.