Singapore president takes walk on the wild side

LONDON - Singapore's President Tony Tan took a walk on the wild side Friday with a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens in London as he wrapped up his state visit to Britain.

Mr Tan toured the gardens, the world's largest collection of living plants, at the end of a historic four-day visit, during which he stayed with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

The first state visit to Britain by a Singaporean president, which formally began Tuesday, comes ahead of the city-state celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence next year.

Mr Tan also on Friday visited the Lloyd's of London insurance market for a tour of the trading floors and a lunch to discuss ties between the financial centres of London and Singapore.

His final engagement before leaving Britain was to be a visit to Imperial College London university, where he was to meet Singaporean students and hear about phenome research and cyber security.

After the ceremonial welcome Tuesday and a state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth, President Tan held talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday.

Cameron and Mr Tan agreed joint measures to protect against cyber attacks and cyber criminals.

On Thursday, he got to grips with comedy animation favourites Wallace and Gromit, the absent-minded inventor and his silent but knowing dog.

President Tan visited their creators Aardman Animations, where he and his wife were given signed figures of Gromit, decked out in the British flag, as a memento.

Aardman characters from "Shaun the Sheep" are to be used to help young children in Singapore learn to speak English.