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SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, H.E. SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED IN HER HONOUR BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE MONGOLIA H.E. MR. T. ELBEGDORJ

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 28th July 2011

Speech

Your Excellency President Elbegdorj

Madam Bolormaa

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here in Mongolia, the land of the "Blue Skies".

Excellency, we in India consider Mongolia as a close and trusted friend and I am confident that my visit will give a strong impetus to the Comprehensive Partnership between India and Mongolia. Mongolia is an important strategic partner of India in North East Asia. We cherish and value our partnership.

India's ties with Mongolia straddle centuries. Chords of Buddhism not only bind us together but also resonate within our hearts. The message of the Buddha that was carried by Indians to Central, East and South East Asia, also made its way to the vast steppes of Mongolia where it has found a permanent home for over two millennia. Mongolian monks studied at Nalanda University during its heyday. And over the centuries, some of the great works of Indian spiritual and secular literature, including the Ramayana and Kalidas' Megha Doota were to find their way into the body of sacred literature - the Tanjur and the Kanjur - that is now considered as part of Mongolia's civilizational heritage. We are deeply honoured and privileged that the Mongolian people describe India as their "spiritual home". This is, indeed, a great tribute when one considers the great distances that separates us geographically. Undoubtedly, the Silk Route, which connected India with Mongolia for centuries, brought together our traders, artists, musicians and artisans. It has been a highway for goods as well as ideas.

Mr. President, all of us in India have read about the adventures and exploits of the great Mongol leader Chinggis Khaan. His overland journey through Asia and into Europe in the 13th century was as historically significant as the sea journeys of Vasco Da Gama or Christopher Columbus in heralding a new age that was to change the world forever. His descendants founded the great Mughal Empire, whose invaluable contributions to India are many and symbolized most eloquently by its great monument - the Taj Mahal.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders of modern India had a very special regard for the Mongolian people. It was at Prime Minister Nehru's behest that a Mongolian delegation visited India for the Ásian Relations Conference' in 1947. On the sound foundation of this rich legacy, we have built a relationship woven around common values. We share a democratic outlook with respect for rule of law and human rights as well as a vision of peace and stability in our region. Our ties have been steadily reinforced and nurtured through exchange of high level political visits and through cooperation in diverse areas, including in the field of education, training, agriculture and information technology. Today, we wish to further strengthen these as well as forge new ties in the field of trade and investment.

Since 1990, Mongolia's transition to market economy and democracy has opened new opportunities for multi-faceted cooperation. A business delegation is accompanying me. They have expressed optimism and have a number of ideas to take forward our economic engagement and I hope they would be given full support.

We, in India, have followed the journey of Mongolia in the last two decades with great interest. We rejoice in your achievements, as Mongolia today stands tall as a strong and vibrant democracy. We congratulate Mongolia for assuming the Chair of the Community of Democracies. We stand ready to assist in ensuring the success of your Chairmanship.

In 2009, during your visit to India, we established our 'Comprehensive Partnership' to symbolize our shared commitment to ever-expanding ties at all levels between our two peoples and two countries. We work together in regional and multilateral forums. We are committed to enhance these multi-faceted ties in the years ahead.

Excellency, we have together built an impressive edifice of multi-faceted co-operation. My meetings with the Mongolian leadership today have given a strong impetus to these ties. India remains resolute in its endeavor to further deepen and diversify relations with Mongolia drawing deeply from the fountain of our common heritage and building on our common aspirations of prosperity and democracy.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast:-

- to the health of His Excellency President Elbegdorj and Madam Bolormaa;

- to the prosperity and progress of the people of Mongolia; and

- to the abiding friendship between our two countries and peoples.

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