Prime Minister Gillard Welcomes Prime Minister Batbold as the First Mongolian Head of Government Visits Australia
Canberra, Australia (News4us.com) February 24, 2011
Prime Minister Gillard warmly welcomed Prime Minister Batbold as the first Mongolian head of government to visit Australia since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1972 and since Mongolia’s democratic transformation in 1990.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the friendly and growing relations between Australia and Mongolia, particularly in the field of minerals and energy. The two leaders noted that the development of major mining projects, including the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, would promote Mongolia’s economic development while deepening Australia’s commercial ties with Mongolia.
They welcomed the increasing interest of the Australian mining industry in sharing its expertise with Mongolia, and the capacity of Australian businesses in the geological, drilling, mining software, environmental management, financial, legal and training sectors to contribute to the development of Mongolia’s minerals and energy sector.
The two leaders acknowledged the importance of open and transparent markets, and the rule of law, to promote further trade and investment between the countries. In this regard, Mr Batbold welcomed Australia’s assistance in developing a best-practice regulatory and legislative framework to promote the successful and sustainable development of Mongolia’s minerals and energy sector.
The two Prime Ministers noted the significant potential to expand the bilateral relationship across a range of shared interests. They witnessed the signature of four bilateral agreements:
- A Memorandum of Understanding on vocational education cooperation aimed at helping Mongolia build the capacity of its mining workforce, encouraging the exchange of vocational education students and staff, and encouraging the exchange of information on education systems, qualifications and recognition processes between vocational education institutes and universities.
- A Memorandum of Understanding to promote agricultural development and the sharing of information and agricultural technologies, with the aim of improving livestock and crop production in Mongolia.
- A Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments to foster the exchange of information on Cabinet Secretariat operations and on enhancing transparency and public access to information.
- A Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Academy of Science and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences to promote the exchange of ideas and the review of collaborative opportunities in scientific fields of common interest, such as geology, water resources and agriculture.
Ms Gillard also announced that Australia would take the following steps to strengthen ties with Mongolia in the fields of trade, education and development:
- Austrade will open a permanent office in Ulaanbaatar in 2011, in view of the growing number of Australian companies interested in doing business in Mongolia.
- Australia will expand the Mongolia-Australia Scholarships Program from 28 to 38 Mongolian students every year from 2012. More than 140 Mongolians have received scholarships to study in Australia under the program over the past decade.
- Australia will provide $1.5 million in 2010-2011 to support water and sanitation, cost-benefit analysis of mining sites, and children with disabilities. The projects will be implemented by UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme. The bilateral development partnership, valued at $7.4 million this year and more than $50 million since 1995, has to date focused primarily on improving Mongolian public and private sector capacity to manage its economic development.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the growing people-to-people links between Mongolia and Australia, and the contribution of the Mongolia-Australia Scholarships Program in this regard. They noted the active work of the Mongolia-Australia Society, or the “Mozzies Association”, in sustaining linkages between the two countries. They noted that more than 300 Mongolians had studied in Australia, including a current minister and three serving members of parliament. Mr Batbold welcomed the presence of Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development volunteers in Mongolia.
More than 120 young Australian volunteers have contributed to Mongolia’s development. Both leaders also highlighted the value of parliamentary delegation visits in both directions.
Natural disasters and extreme weather events are a serious challenge for both countries. Ms Gillard conveyed the appreciation of the Australian people for Mongolia’s condolences for the loss of life and damage caused by the recent floods, cyclone and bushfires in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. She also welcomed Mongolia’s financial contribution to Australia’s disaster relief efforts, provided by Mr Batbold in his meeting with Ms Gillard.
In turn, Mr Batbold expressed appreciation for Australia’s assistance in overcoming the effects of Mongolia’s extreme winter drought in 2010, which devastated Mongolia’s livestock holdings and threatened the livelihoods of Mongolian herders.
Both leaders underscored the importance of national and global efforts to combat climate change. They welcomed the results of the 2010 Cancun Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and agreed on the need for prompt implementation of the Cancun agreements.
Australia and Mongolia share common strategic interests and objectives in the Asia-Pacific region, including the peaceful development of the region. Ms Gillard and Mr Batbold both commented on the value of Australian and Mongolian cooperation in regional meetings such as the ASEAN Regional Forum. Ms Gillard welcomed Mr Batbold’s desire to enhance Mongolia’s engagement with the Asia Pacific region. Both leaders also reiterated their commitment to a world free from nuclear weapons and their commitment to the global non-proliferation regime. Mr Batbold noted Mongolia’s interest in developing its uranium industry, and that Australia and Mongolia, two countries with significant uranium resources, had a shared interest in promoting best practice of safeguards, security and export controls.
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. They welcomed Australia’s and Mongolia’s cooperation in training the Afghan National Army at the Artillery School in Kabul, led by Australia. Both leaders emphasised the common interest of the international community in a sovereign, stable and secure Afghanistan that no longer serves as a safe haven for terrorism.
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