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Remarks Following Discussions With President Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat of Mongolia

January 23, 1991

President Bush. Mr. President, it's been my great honor to welcome you to the White House for this historic visit to our country, the first ever by the head of state of Mongolia. Mr. President, Mongolia and the United States are countries separated by thousands of miles and a world of differences -- in culture, history, and outlook. And yet, in this past year, our two nations have moved closer together, drawn toward one another by universal principles and ideals.

In the past year, Mongolia has opened its controlled economy to free market reform, opened its closed political system, and opened its doors to the world. Opposition parties are now legal. Mongolia held its first multiparty elections in July -- a free and fair vote that produced the first popularly elected legislature in Mongolia's history. This transition toward broader political freedom has a parallel in increased freedom of belief as well, with the reopening of several monasteries. Mr. President, your party's positive approach toward reform has meant peaceful change.

In our discussions today, I made clear the strong support the United States is ready to offer as Mongolia moves forward toward greater freedom. President Ochirbat said he appreciated our support for Mongolia's efforts at democracy and restructuring, and he hopes to lay a firm foundation for positive development of bilateral relations, based on mutual benefit, noninterference in each other's internal affairs.

Already, the United States has begun a program of technical assistance to Mongolia. Just this month, a team from AID traveled to Ulan Bator to brief 20 mid-level managers on free market reform and found 200 officials ready to exchange ideas, including many Members of the Mongolian Legislature. And this summer, for the first time ever, Peace Corps volunteers will begin working in Mongolia.

Later this afternoon, our two countries will sign agreements opening the way to expanded trade and closer contact in the areas of science and technology. And today, I have issued the waiver to open the door granting Mongolia most-favored-nation status, a step that I hope will spur increased trade between our two countries.

In addition to these matters of mutual interest, I reviewed with President Ochirbat world affairs of surpassing concern, including Operation Desert Storm. Mongolia was among the very first to condemn Iraq's brutal invasion of Kuwait and to call for Iraq's complete and unconditional withdrawal. Mr. President, after our talks, I know that you believe as I do that no nation must be permitted to assault and brutalize its neighbor. The action of Iraq's dictator -- the actions of one misguided man -- cannot obscure mankind's bright destiny of democracy and freedom. The future lies with the process of revolution and renewal now taking place in your nation -- a democratic revolution that is destined to bring peace, freedom and prosperity to the people of Mongolia, as it has to this country and so many others around the world.

So, once again, sir, it has been my distinct pleasure to welcome you to Washington and to this White House. And God bless you, and may God bless the people of Mongolia.

President Ochirbat. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, at the outset, let me express our sincere thanks to Your Excellency, Mr. President, for the invitation to pay an official working visit to the United States of America and the warm welcome accorded to us. Availing myself of this opportunity to address you, the representatives of mass media, in this room of the White House -- a house which has witnessed many outstanding historical events -- I bring the friendly greeting of the Mongolian people to the American people.

This is the first visit ever paid by the head of state of Mongolia to the United States of America. It is an evidence of a dynamic development of Mongol-American bilateral relations -- particularly if you will recall that formal relations were established between the two countries only 4 years ago.

President Bush and I had a frank exchange of views on bilateral relations and international issues of mutual interest. And I am extremely pleased to say that this meeting opened up broad vistas for furthering ties between the two countries. We highly appreciate the full support voiced during our meeting by President Bush on behalf of the U.S. administration for democratic processes that are gaining momentum in Mongolia.

President Bush and I agreed to see to it that the Mongol-American relations be developed vigorously on the basis of the universally recognized principles of state sovereignty, independence, noninterference in each other's internal affairs, equality, and mutual benefit.

We have also agreed that there is a broad possibility for cooperation in encouraging U.S. investment and carrying out technological renovation in Mongolia, expanding bilateral trade, facilitating Mongolia's switch to a market economy, and training qualified personnel. I believe that the trade agreement and the agreement on scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries, which are to be signed today, will be of much importance in making the best of these potentialities.

And, of course, of the exchange of views on international issues, both sides unanimously emphasize the importance of pulling together the efforts of all states in order to strengthen the positive changes that are taking place in the world.

As for the Persian Gulf crisis, we deeply regret the outbreak of an armed conflict there which is jeopardizing international stability. Should the Iraqi leadership meet the demands of the international community and withdraw its troops from Kuwait, this situation would not have occurred. The Mongolian People's Republic strongly hopes that the military operations by allied forces aimed at restoring Kuwait's independence and sovereignty would not escalate, and peace and tranquillity will prevail soon in the Persian Gulf region. Just as democracy, freedom, and human rights are the lofty ideals that should be upheld by all, this is what the Mongolian Government is strongly committed to in its domestic and foreign policies.

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for the warm welcome accorded to us, the delegates of the Mongolian people. I wish you and the American people happiness and well-being.

Note: President Bush spoke at 1:16 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. President Ochirbat spoke in Mongolian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Prior to their remarks, the two Presidents met privately in the Oval Office and with U.S. and Mongolian officials in the Cabinet Room, and then attended a luncheon in the Old Family Dining Room.

George Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With President Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat of Mongolia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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