The United States and Mongolia established diplomatic relations on January 27, 1987, after a period of "mutual flirtation" when negotiations were conducted in New York by the two nations' UN missions. United States officials were primarily interested in establishing ties because of Mongolia's strategic and geographic position in the Sino-Soviet relationship. Washington had considered establishing diplomatic relations in the past, but it had deferred to the Guomindang (Kuomintang in Wade-Giles), or Chinese Nationalist, government in Taiwan, which still claimed Mongolia as part of China. In the early 1970s, negotiations were reopened, and they were almost completed when the proceedings were broken off by Mongolia because of problems between the United States and the Soviet Union, including the Second Indochina War (1963-75).
The establishment of Mongolian-United States relations reflected improvements in the United States-Soviet relationship, and it was consistent with Gorbachev's interest in dealing with all states that have substantial interests in Asia. The United States gained the diplomatic recognition of a strategically located country in Asia. The new Mongolian-United States relationship was assisted by the establishment of ties between China and the United States. For Mongolia the new relationship has given greater credibility to its political independence and sovereign status and has increased its foreign policy options.
The United States embassy in Ulaanbaatar opened in April 1988. Because of continued inadequate facilities, however, the ambassador to Mongolia was the only United States chief of mission who was resident in Washington. By 1989 the ambassador had traveled to Mongolia several times in the space of a year in order to carry out state business.
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