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Mongolia to supply critical metals to France, Macron says

G7 Summit in Hiroshima

PARIS (Reuters) - Mongolia will supply critical metals to France needed for its energy transition, President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday during the first ever visit to Ulaanbaatar by a serving French president.

"We decided to work together to boost our energy sovereignty through the supply of critical metals from your country, which has this resource," he told a news conference with the Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh, who called France its "third neighbour".

A partnership with nuclear group Orano, which is working on developing a uranium mine in Mongolia, would be key, Macron added. Macron stopped in Mongolia on his way back from the G-7 in Japan.

Nearly 80% of Mongolia's total exports go to China, but the mineral-rich country is working to expand trade and mining relationships beyond its two big neighbours China and Russia and hopes to become a bridge between Europe and Asia.

Rare earth minerals are essential to many high-tech manufacturing processes and are used in electric vehicles, wind turbines, portable electronics, microphones and speakers.

(Reporting by Michel Rose)