Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Ambassador Ravdan Bold speaks at UVSC Monday. He said knowing English should help Mongolians economically and educationally.

OREM — Mongolia is a budding democracy sandwiched between two giants — China and Russia, the ambassador of Mongolia to the United States said.

Add the United States to the mix, and complications rise, Ambassador Ravdan Bold said.

"The White House always asks me, 'How is your relationship with Russia and China?' Our relationships with them are excellent," Bold told about 50 people at Utah Valley State College during a Thursday speech titled "Mongolia Today."

The U.S. government established diplomatic ties with Mongolia in 1987. A few years later, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker announced that the United States was the third neighbor to Mongolia.

"It's caused a little bit of concern among our big giants. It's natural," Bold said.

Over the past century, Mongolia was controlled by the Chinese and former Soviet Union. Local government during the latter part of the century was a communist regime that the Soviet Union protected and influenced. In the late 1980s, democracy and reform swept through the country.

Mongolia currently receives U.S. foreign aid, and American visitors are often surprised at the number of Peace Corps volunteers working in Mongolia, Bold said.

The government would like to expand trade, especially the sale of livestock on the world market. Its beef and lamb products are high quality because they graze solely on pastureland, Bold said.

The government declared English as the second official language shortly after 1990, when its "independence" was declared from the Soviet Union.

Bold said a delegation from Mongolia visited Singapore, an English-speaking enclave in Asia, and were told by officials there that a transition to English would take about a generation.

"We're probably the last generation that speaks Russian," said the middle-aged ambassador about his fellow Mongolians.

Knowledge of English should help Mongolians economically and educationally.

"We'd like to bring more institutions to Mongolia, not only to teach English but to teach the new culture" associated with English-speaking countries in the West, Bold said.

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