G20 delays China panda loan to France

China has had to delay the loan of two pandas to France because the Greek debt crisis dominated the G20 summit when they hoped to finalise details, French Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said on Monday.

"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 (Nicolas) Sarkozy," she said.

The pandas are destined for the Beauval zoo in central France.

"I hope we can finalise things by letter in the coming weeks," she said, adding that "the couple have been identified."

"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," the minister explained.

During a state visit by President Hu to the United States in January, China announced it would extend its loan of two pandas to Washington zoo for a further five years.

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