Hagel moves to increase military ties with Mongolia as Asia trip wraps up

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is seeking to bolster U.S. military relations with Mongolia on Thursday as he wraps up a 10-day trip to the Asia-Pacific.

Hagel's stop in Ulan Bator put him in between China and Russia, two global powers that Washington has been sparring with over territorial disputes involving U.S. allies. And it underscored a repeated message he delivered over the past 10 days urging nations to respect their neighbors and to resolve disagreements peacefully.

Arriving in Mongolia after spending three days in China, Hagel was expected to thank the nation for its contributions to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He will meet Mongolian Defense Minister Bat-Erdene.

The U.S. provides about $2 billion in military sales annually to Mongolia, and another $1 billion in military education and training.