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Pentagon chief Hagel praises Mongolia, gets a horse as a gift during visit

Published on Apr 10, 2014 5:50 PM

ULAN BATOR (REUTERS) - US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel praised Mongolian troops and got a horse as a gift during a rare visit on Thursday to the landlocked nation strategically located between China and Russia that sits on vast quantities of untapped mineral wealth.

Mr Hagel was the first US Defence Secretary to visit Mongolia since Mr Donald Rumsfeld stopped there in 2005. He noted the growing role the country has taken in international peacekeeping operations, including in Afghanistan, where it has 350 troops.

"As one of the world's fastest growing economies, Mongolia has a growing stake in regional and global security," he said.

Mr Hagel was welcomed to the capital Ulan Bator according to custom, trying dried milk curd upon stepping off the plane at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, named after the country's warrior-emperor.

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