China has delayed the loan of two pandas to France after the Greek debt crisis left no time to finalise the details of the deal at this week's G20 summit in Cannes.
While EU leaders were busy trying to persuade China to invest in a European bailout fund to save the continent from further economic disaster, the transfer of the giant pandas was put to one side.
"Things were very far advanced. Unfortunately because of the Greek crisis, the sovereign debt crisis, the emergency G20 summit, there was no time for the final discussion between President Hu Jintao and President Sarkozy," said French Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.
Pandas are among the world's most endangered species. A 2004 census by the Worldwide Fund for Nature revealed there were 1,600 in the wild and 300 in captivity, mostly in China. The pandas in question were destined for Beauval Zoo in central France.
"The panda is such a symbolic animal that such loan agreements require agreement from the highest level in China. That's why it still lacks the final approval," Ms Kosciusko-Morizet said. "I hope we can finalise things by letter in the coming weeks."
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