Rare earths, Ukraine top agenda on French President Macron's historic visit to Mongolia

BEIJING (AP) — Access to rare earth minerals and Russia’s war against Ukraine topped the agenda on French President Emmanuel Macron’s historic visit to Mongolia.

Macron met with his Mongolian counterpart Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on Sunday in the capital Ulaanbaatar and pledged cooperation on the extraction and trade of minerals used in satellites, cell phones and other key technologies.

The visit was the first by a French head of state to Mongolia, a landlocked democracy of 3 million people twice the size of Texas sandwiched between Russia and China.

Mongolia’s grasslands, mountains and deserts hold vast deposits of coal, copper and lesser-known minerals vital to the modern economy.

Macron’s trip followed his attendance at the Group of Seven summit in Japan, where Russia's invasion of Ukraine was a key topic.

The conflict is having a global impact, Macron said, referring to high food prices and more refugees. More than 8 million Ukrainians have been forced from their homes, according to the United Nations.

"A return to peace on the European continent in compliance with international law,” is the ultimate objective, Macron said. “I was able to share with the President our will to support a state that is under aggression.”