Japan, Mongolia to cooperate on ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’

TOKYO — The foreign ministers of Japan and Mongolia agreed today to cooperate in promoting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” a vision that Tokyo is pushing with the U.S. and other “like-minded” countries to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi held talks in Ulaanbaatar with his Mongolian counterpart, Nyamtseren Enkhtaivan. Motegi’s visit came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a trip to Mongolia because of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 infection.

Motegi, who agreed with counterparts from the U.S., Australia and India at “Quad” talks in Tokyo on Tuesday to seek more countries’ support for the FOIP concept of security and economic cooperation in ensuring open sea lanes to the Middle East. China claims most of the South China Sea.

The Japanese and Mongolian ministers said at a news conference that they pledged further cooperation in achieving the FOIP, while agreeing to step up security, medical and economic cooperation.

The two sides also signed a $235 million emergency loan to help the pandemic-hit Mongolian economy and fund medical equipment.

Japan and the U.S. have been pushing the FOIP as a way to bring together countries that share concerns about China’s growing influence in the region.