ULAN BATOR, July 13, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2nd L front) arrives at Ulan Bator, Mongolia, July 13, 2016. Li arrived here Wednesday for an official visit to Mongolia and the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit.(Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)
ULAN BATOR, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived here Wednesday for an official visit to Mongolia and the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit.
This is Li's first trip to the landlocked Asian country since he took office as Chinese premier in 2013, and the first official visit by a Chinese premier to the country in six years.
During the visit, Li will hold talks with Mongolia's new prime minister, Jargaltulga Erdenebat, and meet with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and Chairman Miyegombo Enkhbold of the State Great Hural, Mongolia's parliament.
A series of cooperation deals covering trade, infrastructure, finance and energy, as well as climate change and media exchanges, will be signed during the two-day visit, the first half of Li's stay in Ulan Bator.
Sharing a 4,710-km-long land borderline, China and Mongolia have witnessed more and more intimate relations in recent years thanks to closer economic links and greater political trust between the two countries.
In 2014, Beijing and Ulan Bator upgraded their ties to a "comprehensive strategic partnership" -- the highest rank in Mongolia's diplomatic relations. A joint statement issued in November last year lauded the China-Mongolia relations as being the "best ever" in history.
In the economic realm, China has for years been Mongolia's largest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment. According to official statistics, two-way trade has expanded 50 times over the past two decades.
Li's visit to Mongolia will inject new vitality into the two countries' already cozy bonds, observers say.
On Friday and Saturday, the Chinese premier will attend the 11th summit of ASEM, an intergovernmental forum aimed at fostering political dialogue and boosting cooperation in various areas across Asia and Europe.
This year marks the 20th anniversary since ASEM was launched in Bangkok, Thailand in 1996.
The Ulan Bator summit, which came on the heels of the 18th summit between China and the European Union (EU) held in Beijing, will see Li deliver keynote speeches on China's proposition on ASEM's future development, Asia-Europe pragmatic cooperation, as well as major international and regional hot issues.
He is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with leaders of some ASEM members.
This will be the second time for the Chinese premier to attend the biannual summit. The last ASEM summit was held in Milan, Italy in 2014.