President Vladimir Putin: Mr President, allow me to congratulate you, in person this time, on your election. I remember our previous meetings when you were Prime Minister, and I think we worked together quite well and resolved a number of very important questions for Mongolia. We found a solution to the debt problem, quite a liberal solution, and one that contradicted neither the interests of Russia nor Mongolia but on the contrary, created a foundation for developing our relations.
At the same time, I would like to note that during the early and mid-1990s, Russia’s share in Mongolia’s trade turnover fell from 72 percent to 20 percent. Of course, we still have a great deal to do in order to return to our former share in your country’s trade, or at least come close to it. But the trend is positive – trade between our countries increased by 15.5 percent over the last year and this upward trend is still holding strong. We likewise remain firmly committed to continued development of our relations, our political and humanitarian ties and regional cooperation between our countries.
Overall, we are very pleased that Mongolia’s leadership is in the hands of someone who knows Russia and speaks excellent Russian. As far as I know, you graduated in Moscow in 1980?
President of Mongolia Nambaryn Enkhbayar: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: I hope our contacts will continue. For my part, I would like to invite you to visit the Russian Federation on an official visit, on a working visit, and at any time that is convenient for you.
Nambaryn Enkhbayar: Thank you very much, Mr President. I am very pleased to have this new opportunity to meet with you. I have warm recollections of our meetings in Moscow when I was Prime Minister. People react very positively, I think, to the fact that we, the Russian and Mongolian leadership, have worked together and settled many of the important issues in our bilateral cooperation that have built up over the years, and that we have achieved some very good results. I built my election campaign platform on the fact that we have excellent relations with Russia and that they should stay this way in the future. The Mongolian people elected me in large part because I have very good relations with the Russian leadership, with President Putin and with the Russian people. I think this is also a very positive signal.
I also must work actively to invite even more Russian businesspeople to invest in the Mongolian economy and actively develop our bilateral cooperation. I received your congratulations with much gratitude and I was very happy to welcome my old friend Sergei Mironov as your representative and envoy at my inauguration ceremony. I was very pleased that he came and that he had such kind words to say. We also discussed some aspects of our bilateral cooperation.
Concerning our bilateral cooperation as it stands today, I must say that your visit in 2000 created a very good opportunity to activate it on both sides and laid the foundation that enabled us to settle the debt issue and successfully find solutions to other major problems.
As President of Mongolia, I would like to thank you personally and the Russian leadership for your understanding, will and support in settling these major issues. Now these problems have been dealt with and this has opened up new opportunities for major investment in the Mongolian economy, and more precisely, in our joint ventures and in the Ulan Bator railway.
Trade between Russia and China has increased greatly and there is an agreement on transit shipments of petroleum products. Increasing the capacity of the Ulan Bator railway would benefit Russia, China and Mongolia.
Vladimir Putin: This is a good project.
Nambaryn Enkhbayar: It is a very good project and it is developing very successfully. We would like to see more Russian companies taking part in creating a parallel railway in order to increase throughput capacity of goods going from Russia to China and vice versa. China also has an interest in this project. Perhaps in this sense it would make sense for us to work together, all three countries, so as to increase the capacity of the Ulan Bator railway.
Then there is Erdenet, the leader of our economy – we are currently working on technological upgrading there in order to increase production in relation to the current level. There are a lot of coking coal and other interesting deposits there and we would like investment to flow in that direction too. Chinese and Japanese companies have also shown an interest in participating in this project. We would like Russia to also take part. I think that Russia’s presence would help stabilise the economic situation in Mongolia. In this respect, it will be very important to exchange views and coordinate our work.
Vladimir Putin: Will you come to Moscow?
Nambaryn Enkhbayar: Thank you for the invitation. I definitely will come. We can decide on a date through our foreign ministries. I studied at the Literature Institute in Moscow from 1975 to 1980. Of course, Moscow has changed a lot since that time. Every time I come there are new streets and some streets have changed their names. You have to learn everything all over again. Moscow is like my home city, a city where I received my education and studied Russian and European literature. Thank you very much for the invitation.