Japan and Mongolia can benefit by strengthening their strategic partnership and combining Japan’s advanced technology with Mongolia’s abundant natural resources, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said Friday in Tokyo.

Elbegdorj, a former two-time prime minister, was visiting Japan to sign a ¥500 million loan from the government to develop his nation’s small and midsize businesses and for measures against Mongolia’s deteriorating environment.

“The two nations can cooperate long-term in all fields,” Elbegdorj said during a news conference at the Japan National Press Club.

Tokyo aims to promote stronger ties with Mongolia to secure new sources of rare earth minerals and break Japan’s reliance on China for the vital elements.

“I understand Japan’s strong interest toward rare earths. We would like to jointly develop the resources,” he said.

Elbegdorj acknowledged that Mongolia’s rapid transformation in the last two decades into an open market economy has taken a toll on the environment, but said his country has been working on countermeasures and ways to create renewable energy sources.

Regarding the recent territorial spat between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Elbegdorj said he hopes the issue can be solved peacefully.

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