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UPDATED: 08:39, February 27, 2007
Sri Lanka gives China young elephant to commemorate 50 years of friendship
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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse gifted China on Monday with a young elephant named Migara who will live at the Beijing Zoo.

The 5-year-old elephant, which weigh nearly a ton, is named after an ancient Sri Lankan chancellor. Migara, the elephant, will help mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This year has also been designated as China-Sri Lank Friendship Year.

At the presentation ceremony, Rajapakse said the elephant is most revered by the Sri Lankan people, and Migara represents their friendship towards the Chinese people.

"I believe Migara will adapt to his new home in Beijing very soon."

Chandana Rajapaksa, a veterinary from the Pinnawella Elephant Orphanage, where Migara was raised, says "sending elephants to other countries is a special way to express the goodwill of the Sri Lankan people".

This is not the first time that the Sri Lankan governmental leaders tried to demonstrate their friendship towards the Chinese. Previously in 1972, Mrs. Sirimavo R.D. Bandaranaike, in 1979 Ranasinghe Premadasa both then prime ministers of the south Asian island country gave China two elephants respectively.

Zheng Ruixiang, a researcher on south Asian issues with the China Institute of International Studies said the state visit by the Sri Lankan president and the presentation of state gifts are evidence of not only the firm traditional friendship between the two countries but increasing economic ties.

Total trade volume between China and Sri Lanka reached 1.44129 billion U.S. dollars in 2006, increasing by 16.9 percent over the previous year, including 1.10646 billion U.S. dollars of exports and 34.83 million U.S. dollars of imports.

During his stay in Beijing, Rajapakse is to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, and meet with Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao separately. Rajapakse will attend a celebration banquet together with Chinese top advisor Jia Qinglin.

Source: Xinhua

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