India and Mongolia discussed economic cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development, energy, services and IT and agreed to explore possibility of launching direct air connectivity between New Delhi and the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a joint media briefing with Mongolian Foreign Minister D Tsogtbaatar after the 6th Session of the Indian-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation here said the two countries agreed to explore ways to identify new areas of cooperation in all sectors of mutual interest and to enhance bilateral trade and investments.
Swaraj, the first Indian foreign minister to visit the resource-rich country in 42 years, said India sees Mongolia as a factor of stability in East Asia and believes that Mongolia's social and economic development is important for peace and prosperity in the region.
During the Indian-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation, the two sides discussed pressing global challenges, particularly the scourge of terrorism and agreed to collaborate bilaterally and in international arena to thwart the designs of those who extend support to terrorist outfits.
The two sides also reviewed the progress in the ongoing collaborative projects, including the refinery project selected by the Government of Mongolia for implementation with the support of USD one billion Indian Line of Credit.
"We directed our officials to coordinate follow up action on each side for the expeditious implementation of these projects. Our strong political ties must be complemented by commensurate levels of trade, economy and investment," she said.
"Today, India has emerged as one of the fastest growing large economies in the world. With its rich natural resources and strong aspiration for development, Mongolia can be an important partner in India's growth story," she said.
Swaraj, who arrive here yesterday on a two-day visit, said collaboration for the ongoing refinery project is in recognition of this fact.
She said Mongolia is not only India's strategic partner but also a spiritual neighbour.
"We share long historical links. Mongolia is well known in India for the valour of her kings and her strong Buddhist heritage. India was among the first countries, outside the erstwhile Communist bloc, to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia," she said.
Swaraj said in the six decades of the partnership between the two countries, the bilateral relations have grown from "strength to strength".
"This is reflected in our widening and deepening strategic partnership today, based on the common ideals of democracy and freedom, and enriched by mutual respect and trust."
She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "historic visit" in 2015, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister to Mongolia, provided a fresh impetus to the bilateral relations and qualitatively raised the level of the engagement.
"We also agreed that we should make all efforts to maintain and accelerate the momentum of our interaction in all areas."
She said that in tandem with the countries' "ever growing" engagement, India and Mongolai will have more frequent visits now on at Foreign Minister's level.
Calling upon the Mongolian business community to "seize economic opportunities arising out of "India's growth", she said the two countries have agreed to remove institutional and logistical impediments to boost trade, tourism and people to people contacts.
"In this regard, we also agreed to explore possibility of launching direct air connectivity between our two capitals," she said.
In the meeting, they discussed economic cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development, energy, services and IT.
She said that India is committed for capacity building programmes for the people of Mongolia, including in areas such as, training in English language and IT.
She said India looks forward to more students from Mongolia visiting the country for pursuing vocational education and training under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme, also known as ITEC, and through scholarships offered by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.
"We would encourage students from Mongolia to pursue studies in Indian art, music and culture which would further reinforce our cultural links," she said.
In view of the two countries' common Buddhist heritage, she said, India also encourage students from Mongolia to visit the country for further study and research in the field of Buddhist studies.
Swaraj will participate in a special event to commemorate the birth centenary of the Venerable 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, who was not only an eminent Buddhist leader, but also the longest serving Ambassador of India to Mongolia.
The event will mark his contribution to the promotion of Buddhism in Mongolia and to the deepening of civilizational and spiritual bonds between the two countries.
She said India and Mongolia share a bond of peace through Buddhism.
"As we tread the path of developing our partnership; I am sure, the teachings of Lord Buddha will continue to guide us," she said.
India and Mongolia have close cooperation in trade and economy, science, health, agriculture, culture, education, communication and tourism. The two countries are also working closely to ensure security and curbing international crimes and terrorism.The total trade between the two countries amounted to USD 25.6 million in 2016.