India is seeking a deeper foothold in Mongolia with defence minister Rajnath Singh’s two-day visit to Mongolia on Monday.
Singh’s visit is part of India’s broader, East Asia strategy. With Mongolia sharing borders with Russia and China, India is looking for a firmer connect with Ulaanbaatar, as a third major player. Japan is also keen to forge better ties with Mongolia
The defence minister will ride on two critical initiatives taken after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country in 2015.
Following PM Modi’s visit, India has emerged as a critical player for providing energy security to Mongolia. India has provided $1.2 billion credit to Mongolia, which is being used to build a large oil refinery. The refinery in Dornogobi province will cover 75 per cent of the country’s energy requirements once it is commissioned in 2025.
Attended the ground breaking ceremony of an oil refinery at Altanshiree Soum in Dornogobi province with the Prime Minister of Mongolia, Mr. U Khurelsukh. This refinery project has been financed by the Government of India through a Line of Credit of One Billion USD. pic.twitter.com/tH6xKSvoDn
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 22, 2018
“The refinery will address 75 % of Mongolia’s requirements. The country sources its fossil fuel from its biggest neighbour and traditional ally, Russia. India is also assisting Mongolia to build its railway and power infrastructure to help transport Mongolia’s mineral wealth,” Mongolian news website, news.mn reported in early April.
India is also setting up a cyber security centre in Mongolia, which Singh will inaugurate during his visit.
Amb. MP Singh had a fruitful discussion with the new Defence Minister and exchanged views on strengthening India-Mongolia Defence cooperation especially expediting Cyber Security Training Centre Project, IT, capacity building and peace keeping.@MEAIndia@DefenceMinIndia pic.twitter.com/1ZuwbnNsGT
— India in Mongolia (@IndiainMongolia) August 18, 2020
India-Mongolia ties are based on a strong cultural foundation as both countries are leveraging their shared heritage of Buddhism.
In June a 25-member delegation led by Law minister Kiren Rijiju visited Ulaanbaatar with the ceremonial casket of Buddhist holy relics. The visit was timed with Mongolian Buddh Purnima celebrations held on June 14.
The holy Buddha relics, which were housed in New Delhi’s National Museum, are known as the ‘Kapilvastu Relics’ since they are from a site in Bihar first discovered in 1898 which is believed to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu.
Mongolia | A delegation led by Union Minister Kiren Rijiju with four Holy Relics of Lord Buddha arrives at Ganden Tegchenling Monastery in Ulaanbaatar
This is a very special gesture from GoI. The main Buddha statue here is gifted by PM Modi in 2015: Union Minister Kiren Rijiju pic.twitter.com/QHiXdlPeQv
— ANI (@ANI) June 13, 2022
Flown to the Mongolian capital in a special Indian Air Force C-17 Globe Master, the relics were accorded the status of a State Guest. The two relics were housed in bullet-proof casings.
A government press statement said that the defence minister will hold talks with Mongolia’s Minister of Defence, Lt Gen. Saikhanbayar. He shall call on the President of Mongolia, U. Khurelsukh and Chairman of the State Great Khural of Mongolia, . G Zandanshatar. “The two democracies have a common interest in fostering peace and prosperity in the entire region,” the statement said.
Also Read: Kiren Rijiju leaves in special IAF plane for Mongolia with Holy Buddha relics