In Mongolia, Kerry hails ‘oasis of democracy’

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is hailing Mongolia as an “oasis of democracy” as he makes a rare, high-profile visit to the Asian country.

Noting Mongolia’s difficult geographical location between undemocratic China and increasingly authoritarian Russia, Kerry also welcomed its parliamentary elections next month.

Mongolia has been democratic for 25 years. It wants to safeguard its sovereignty and has reached out to Washington as part of its “third neighbor” policy.

The U.S. is reciprocating interest at a time it also is cultivating closer ties with southeast Asian nations threatened by China’s rise.

Kerry’s brief stop Sunday in the homeland of Genghis Khan, famous for its traditional ger dwellings, comes before he travels to Beijing for annual U.S.-China strategic and economic talks.