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Khaltmaa Battulga addresses his supporters after claiming victory in the runoff presidential election, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 8, 2017 (Kyodo photo via AP).

Can Mongolia’s Brash New President Navigate Between China and Russia?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Just moments after he was sworn in as Mongolia’s fifth democratically elected president earlier this week, Khaltmaa Battulga turned his attention to international affairs. Having just won the second-round runoff, the business tycoon-turned-president met with Russian, Chinese and Japanese delegations in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. Diplomacy is one of the most important responsibilities assigned to the Mongolian president by the country’s constitution. Managing foreign relations with Mongolia’s immediate neighbors, while also building on his predecessor’s legacy of heightened visibility beyond Northeast Asia, will be a central challenge for Battulga.

Battulga succeeded Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, who served two terms as president and whose diplomatic achievements overshadow the tumultuous path that domestic politics have taken in recent years in mineral-rich Mongolia, which has been hit hard by the plunge in global commodities prices. While both Battulga and Elbegdorj are members of the Democratic Party, they have clashed in the past, particularly over Battulga’s seemingly condescending attitude toward China, the major source of investment in the country and virtually the only customer for its copper and coal exports. ...

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