11/21/2005, 00.00
MONGOLIA - UNITED STATES
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Bush upholds Mongolia as a model in brief visit

The nation, a former satellite state of Moscow, has made a transition from being a communist regime to full democracy in 15 years. Locked between China and Russia, the country considers the United States as a political "third neighbour".

Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews/Agencies) – US president, George Bush, touched down in Mongolia, the last stop of his brief Asia trip, where he met his counterpart, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, in the capital.

In his four-hour visit, Bush expressed thanks for support given "against terrorism", not least with the dispatch of around 130 soldiers in Iraq and 50 in Afghanistan out of an army of 9,000 men. The transition of the country – within 15 years – from being a communist regime to democracy was highlighted as an "example" for the rest of the world. "Like the ideology of communism, the ideology of Islamic radicalism is destined to fail, because the will to power is no match for the universal desire to live in freedom," Bush said. He also talked about an 11 million US dollar aid package to "improve the military forces, to be able to continue to work together for peace and freedom". This is the first visit of the White House to the country since that of the vice-president, Henry Wallace, back in 1944; it was preceded by a visit in October by Donald Rumsfeld, US Defence Secretary.

Mongolia has 2.8 million residents spread out over 1,5 million square km of steppes and deserts, mostly given over to farming and weaving, with an annual income of 400 dollars per year. The country is locked between Russia and China and it calls the United States its "third neighbour", politically speaking. The US helped Mongolia in the drawing up of its national Constitution in 1992. And in the past seven years, the US gave more than 100 million dollars worth of technical aid for democratic and economic reforms.

Bush arrived in Mongolia after his visit in China.

Experts said the brief visit was intended as an acknowledgement for democratic reforms achieved and to give the country a boost to launch it in the international trade sphere.

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