The two leaders visited Berlin Zoo to see the pandas Meng Meng (Sweet Dream) and Jiao Qing (Darling), and give them an official hello to the city.
“I am convinced that these two can become new ambassadors of our friendship,” President Xi Jinping said.
The animals appeared unfazed by their high-profile visitors, choosing to chew on bamboo as a curtain was drawn back to officially unveil them to the public. The pandas, which arrived in Germany in June, will go on show to the general public on Thursday after being given time to adapt to their new surroundings.
“We have achieved a lot concerning economic and social issues and also in terms of contact between our people. We will keep working on it. And now we have two very charming ambassadors here, the panda bears. I think that Jiao Qeng and Meng Meng are going to be very special ambassadors for our countries, and hopefully delight many people,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The loan of the pandas to Germany, which will pay about 1 million euros per year to host the bears, is seen as a special gesture. “For China these bears are nearly holy, there aren’t a lot of them and they’re very very rare,” said DW’s chief political correspondent Melinda Crane. “Certainly it is a sign of deep friendship.”
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had greeted the Chinese president with military honors Wednesday at the start of a short but highly significant visit.
Xi then went on to his meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said it was a “good opportunity” to expand relations between Germany and China before what she called difficult negotiations coming up at the G20 summit later in the week. She said the two countries could help calm the “unrest in the world.”
Opening of markets
Speaking after their morning meeting, Merkel said she would like to see a mutual opening of markets and wanted a quick signing of an investment treaty which could one day lead to a full free-trade agreement with China. Germany wants to be treated equally on business matters and granted market access, Merkel said, adding: “That is very important for our companies.”
She said that there were options for deepening cooperation with China on fighting international terrorism and that cooperation with China in third countries in Africa and Afghanistan was a possibility. Merkel said that an agreement to jointly build a hydroelectric power station in Angola had just been signed.
Merkel also raised the issue of human rights in China. She said discussions on civil society with Xi had been held and that a human rights dialogue must be continued.Deutsche Welle
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