Friday 23 August 2019

Melania Trump takes tour of Great Wall of China

Melania Trump walks along the Mutianyu Great Wall section in Beijing (AP)
Melania Trump walks along the Mutianyu Great Wall section in Beijing (AP)
US first lady Melania Trump poses for photos near the panda enclosure at a zoo in Beijing (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

US first lady Melania Trump has toured China's Great Wall at Mutianyu.

President Donald Trump's wife rode a cable car to a watchtower, signed a guestbook and strolled along a stretch of the wall situated two hours north of Beijing city centre for about half an hour, accompanied by a small group of aides and security officers.

Mrs Trump received a scroll as a gift and chatted with her Chinese hosts before she departed.

The first lady stayed in China as Mr Trump flew to Danang, Vietnam, to participate in a regional economic and security conference.

She planned to return to Washington after touring the Great Wall. The president tweeted that his wife will first stop in Alaska "to greet our AMAZING troops."

Earlier on Friday, she went to the Beijing zoo to check out the pandas, before being serenaded in English and in Chinese by elementary school children.

Mrs Trump looked on with the students from the Shija elementary school as one panda chomped down on a late breakfast of bamboo shoots and leaves. She then presented the students with gifts of plush bald eagle toys.

Parts of the zoo in Beijing's western fringe were shut down for the visit, but Wang Xumei, pushing her one-year-old granddaughter in a buggy, said she was not put off.

"She's very beautiful and we're very happy to have her and the American president in Beijing," Ms Wang said, adding: "Come back soon."

On Thursday evening the US president and first lady were the guests of honour at a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Mr Trump offered a toast to Chinese president Xi Jinping, touting bonds "that will only grow stronger and stronger".

He then introduced a video of his granddaughter Arabella, the daughter of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, singing a traditional Chinese song in Mandarin.

The dinner capped off two days of pageantry and negotiations between Mr Xi and Mr Trump.

At the dinner, neither man made mention of thorny issues like trade and attempts to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.


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