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Germany's Steinmeier seeks deal with mineral-rich Mongolia

February 7, 2024

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is visiting Mongolia on the 50th anniversary of the setting up of diplomatic relations between Berlin and the steppe nation.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier with Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh
In addition to political talks and a state banquet, Steinmeier was set to visit the Genghis Khan National MuseumImage: Britta Pedersen/dpa/picture alliance

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, on Wednesday for talks in the resource-rich country as Germany seeks to reduce its reliance on Russia.

The trip comes as the two countries celebrate half a century of diplomatic relations and seek to reach a strategic partnership deal. 

Steinmeier met Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh for wide-ranging talks on topics including transport, science, archaeology, the environment, energy, the judiciary and economic development.

What do both countries want from one another?

Ulaanbaatar is keen on widening its relations — both politically and economically. 

Meanwhile, Germany is looking to reduce its economic dependence on individual states such as Russia.

When Mongolian Prime Minister  Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene visited Berlin last year, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz highlighted the importance of Mongolia as a partner for Germany for raw materials such as copper and rare earth metals. 

Berlin is also keen on sending a geopolitical signal of support with the trip.  A democratic state, Mongolia is sandwiched between its two giant authoritarian neighbors, Russia and China.

What else is on the agenda?

Steinmeier, traveling with his wife Elke Büdenbender and members of a delegation, was also set to attend a state banquet. 

Also on the program was a visit to the Genghis Khan National Museum, which celebrates the leader whose cavalry armies forged a world empire that stretched from East Asia to Central Europe in the 13th century.

Pope praises Mongolia's tradition of religious freedom

The delegation was also set to meet a nomadic family, with up to 40% of Mongolians living as herders looking after their roaming livestock.

They were also due to visit a school where German is taught as a foreign language. Some 1% of Mongolians speak German, partly because some worked as migrant laborers during communist times in the former East Germany.

rc/kb (AFP, dpa)

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