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Debt crisis keeps France waiting for Chinese pandas

Heads of state had no time to approve the deal because of last week's G20 summit, which was taken up with discussions of the European debt crisis.
Panda china 2011 7 1Enlarge
Pandas are an endangered species. (Ian Walton/AFP/Getty Images)

Among the less predictable effects of the European debt crisis was the delay of a crucial Chinese loan to France.

Paris had hoped to get hold of one of Beijing's most valuable resources: not a hefty credit facility, but two giant pandas.

The two governments had planned to finalize the deal last week, French Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told Agence France Presse.

But the panda negotiations had to take a back seat to a different type of loan, she said:

"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."

The highly endangered giant panda holds such symbolic value for China that all lending arrangements must be approved at the highest level, Kosciusko-Morizet explained.

She recently returned from a visit to the Giant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu, southwest China, which will provide the pandas to be loaned.

A specially-built enclosure is awaiting them at Beaval Zoo in central France.

Kosciusko-Morizet is hopeful the deal will be finalized by letter in the coming weeks, global financial crises permitting.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/debt-crisis-keeps-france-waiting-chinese-pandas