Mongolia has been a U.S. military associate, providing troops to U.S.-led missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it still has about 200 troops.
On his first visit to Mongolia as US defense secretary, Mark Esper spoke about strengthening ties between both the countries to implement U.S. strategies of focusing on countering China and Russia.
Esper was gifted a seven-year-old caramel-colored horse by the Mongolia government. He named the horse Marshall after former U.S. Defense Secretary General George Marshall.
Mongolia is seeking for investment from the United States and other countries it considers “third neighbors” to decrease its economic dependence on China, through which most of its exports of cashmere and other goods move.
Last month, Mongolian President Battulga Khaltmaa visited Washington to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Esper’s trip to Mongolia comes at a time when the relations between the United States and China are locked into an escalating trade war.