A new trade agreement is the highlight of the first visit to the United States by a president of Mongolia in the 70-year history of that remote Asian country.
President Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat planned to sign the agreement Wednesday after meeting with President Bush.U.S. trade with Mongolia totals only about $2 million a year, but the new agreement generally reduces tariffs on Mongolian products to the lowest possible levels, raising the possibility of a significant increase in two-way commerce.
Mongolia has lived in the shadow of the Soviet Union for virtually all of its independent history. But with the election of a democratic government last July, Mongolia has sought to end its relative isolation from the rest of the world.
"They want to reorient toward the West," said a U.S. official, asking not to be identified. Mongolia has been in touch with oil firms about possible exploration deals.