ULAN BATOR, Mongolia, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Monday praised Mongolia's "remarkable" transition to democracy" in the past two decades during a visit to the country.
"In the last 20 years, Mongolia has captured the imagination of the world by its five presidential elections, five democratically conducted parliamentary elections," Biden said after meeting with Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold in Ulan Bator. "And it's truly remarkable, the progress you've made since 1991."
The vice president called Mongolia a "shining example for other nations in transition" and said it is "an emerging leader in the worldwide democratic movement, a responsible actor on the world stage and a close friend and partner of the United States."
"Your visit is the expression of the fact that U.S. recognizes Mongolia's irreversible choice to develop democracy and the will of the Mongolian people and to uphold legal forces to uphold democracy," Batbold told Biden. "We are grateful to the United States for the continued support and the economic assistance."
Batbold said the two leaders discussed ways to improve Mongolian trade and economic relations with the United States and attract more U.S. investments to the country.
He said he was grateful Biden reiterated continued U.S. support for democratic reforms and strengthening reforms and strengthening the market economy in Mongolia.
The United States and Mongolia have a shared history of more than a hundred years, Biden said.
Biden said the United States appreciates Mongolian contributions to the peace and security of the world, particularly in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where nearly 400 Mongolian military personnel will soon be deployed.
He discussed steps the two countries are taking to "enhance economic ties," including work on a transparency agreement that "would make Mongolia an even more attractive destination for American foreign investment."
The United States is "strongly committed to helping the Mongolian people build a better future," Biden said, noting that the U.S. Agency for International Development provided more than $200 million in grant assistance to the country.
Batbold spoke first, saying Mongolia was grateful for U.S. economic assistance.
He said his meeting with Biden was "very productive." He said he hoped to increase exchanges of Mongolian students with America.
Biden said he hoped the prime minister and Mongolian people consider his visit and President Obama's meeting in Washington in June with President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj as "signs of how impressed we are at the progress you have already made. Those reciprocal visits show how important the relationship is to the U.S."