Colombo: A Chinese man was arrested in Colombo while trying to smuggle out swallows' nests with a street value of $50,000 on Tuesday, hours before the country's president was due to arrive.
The man was carrying nearly five kilograms (11 pounds) of the rare birds' nests, a delicacy in China, customs spokesman Leslie Gamini told AFP.
The arrest came on the same day that Chinese President Xi Jinping was making his first official visit to the island, which enjoys close ties with Beijing.
Gamini said the suspect was detained at Sri Lanka's main airport en route to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou carrying edible nests with a retail value of 6.35 million rupees ($50,000) hidden in cans of tea.
"We have arrested the man and investigations are under way," Gamini said, adding that the trade in the nests was banned.
"We will confiscate the nests and send them to our museum for display."
The cup-shaped collections of twigs are held together by dried swiftlet saliva, which is made into a gelatinous soup credited in China with everything from alleviating asthma to arresting the ageing process.