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Commitment to send panda pair to Taiwan unchanged
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Mainland China will honor its commitment to send two giant pandas to Taiwan, the spokesman of the State Forestry Administration (SFA) has said.

"To let our Taiwan compatriots meet these two pandas at an early date, we hope that relevant organizations on both sides of the Taiwan Strait will start communication and negotiations as soon as possible," Cao Qingyao said at a press conference Friday.

He added that the pair, named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan -- characters that together mean "unite" -- are healthy and happy at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in the southwestern Sichuan Province.

Under the care of the keepers, Tuan Tuan has grown to 110 kilograms and Yuan Yuan to 100 kg.

Taipei and Taichung, as well as Hsinchu County, have been vying to host the pandas since Ma Ying-jeou's March 22 victory in Taiwan's elections. Ma indicated that he would accept the mainland's mascots as part of a drive to normalize ties.

(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2008)

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