BEIJING, Feb 26, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse began a week-long state visit to China on Monday — and showed up with an elephant as a gift as well as a large delegation, state media said. Rajapakse, in China to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between the countries, will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and other top officials during his seven-day stay, Xinhua news agency said.
It said the president brought along a five-year-old male elephant as well as a replica of a statue of Buddha.
Sri Lankan officials said Rajapakse arrived with a 266-strong entourage that included several Buddhist monks and cabinet ministers.
Rajapakse last month appointed Sri Lanka’s largest-ever cabinet, comprising 54 ministers. He is also travelling with representatives of Sri Lanka’s private sector to create opportunities for business in China, officials said.