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A SURPRISING SPHERE OF INFLUENCE ; ANCIENT TIES MAY BE KEY TO N. KOREA
[THIRD Edition]
Boston Globe - Boston, Mass.
Subjects: Diplomacy; Arms control & disarmament; International relations; Free markets
Author: Jehangir S. Pocha Globe correspondent
Date: Dec 12, 2004
Start Page: A.38
Section: National/Foreign
Abstract (Document Summary)

Once allies within the Soviet bloc, North Korea and Mongolia chose very different tacks after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990. While North Korea's continuing Stalinism has brought it to the brink of collapse, Mongolia undertook a series of political and economic reforms that revitalized the country.

Most of the cooperation is being channeled through "back- door diplomacy," said Baabar, an adviser to [Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorj] and a founder of the Northeast Asia Association, an organization committed to improving Mongolia's ties with North Korea. Baabar, who like many Mongolians uses only one name, says he has visited North Korea more than 30 times in the past few years.

Geography and political ties aside, what puts Mongolia in a unique position to press North Korea are the "unique ties of blood" between Mongolians and Koreans, said [Baabar], who is also a well- known historian here. Ethnically, Koreans and Mongolians belong to the Altaic language family. Many Korean clans are believed to have come from eastern Mongolia.

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