The vast northern nation locked between Russia and China is known for its ancient breed of tough, tiny horses ridden by Chinggis Khaan and other warlords – and often gives horses to visiting dignitaries.
The horse is unlikely to make the long trip to the United States, a senior U.S. administration official told reporters, though Mongolian officials are eager that it be given a name. Other U.S. dignitaries to receive a symbolic horse in the past include former Vice President Joe Biden, and former defence secretaries Chuck Hagel and Donald Rumsfeld.
Trump administration officials were eager to highlight the visit of Kh.Battulga, a champion wrestler and businessman who leads the democratic nation of only 3 million people, strategically located between two U.S. rivals – Russia and China. It is the first White House visit of a Mongolian president since 2011.
“We sometimes say that Mongolia has only got two physical neighbors – that it’s like a pearl between two oyster shells,” a second U.S. official told reporters.
Mongolia would like to find more investment from the United States and other countries it considers “third neighbors” for its cashmere, produced by nomadic goat-herders. Mongolia would also like more trade in weapons and help with its cybersecurity, the U.S. official said.
Mongolia is home to rich deposits of coal, uranium, and a rare earth mineral used in weapons, consumer electronics and other goods, but suffers from a lack of transportation options. A rail link north to the Trans Siberian Railway could be one option, the U.S. official said.
Mongolia has also volunteered to play a part in Trump’s diplomatic overtures to Pyongyang, offering to host Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a summit. The country is accessible by rail from North Korea.