Merkel and Xi engage in 'panda diplomacy' at Berlin zoo

Two days before the start of the G20 summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel indulged in "panda diplomacy", opening a $10 million Chinese compound in Berlin Zoo for Meng Meng and Jiao Qing -- two giant pandas that China is lending to Germany as a token of friendship.

President Xi said during an hour-long ceremony that Germany had expressed a wish for the pandas, to which he responded "positively."

Xi's visit, a month after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang travelled to Berlin to meet Merkel, comes at an extremely sensitive time for big-power relations ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visit pandas
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Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visit pandas
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony for Chinese panda bears Meng Meng and Jiao Qing at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Jiao Qing, a Chinese male panda bear, is seen as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping visit its compound during a welcome ceremony at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a welcome ceremony for Chinese panda bears Meng Meng and Jiao Qing at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Meng Meng, a female Chinese panda bear, is seen as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping visit its compound during a welcome ceremony at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 05: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping officially open the new panda enclosure for viewing at Zoo Berlin on July 5, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The two pandas, Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, are on loan from China for the next 15 years. (Photo by Michele Tantussi-Pool/Getty Images)
Meng Meng, one of the two giant Chinese panda bears, is seen as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping visit their compound during a welcome ceremony at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Jiao Qing, one of the two giant Chinese panda bears, is seen as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping visit their compound during a welcome ceremony at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Meng Meng, one of the two giant Chinese panda bears, is seen as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping visit their compound during a welcome ceremony at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony for Chinese panda bears Meng Meng and Jiao Qing at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 05: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping officially open the new panda enclosure for viewing at Zoo Berlin on July 5, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The two pandas, Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, are on loan from China for the next 15 years. (Photo by Michele Tantussi-Pool/Getty Images)
Chinese panda bear Meng Meng is seen in its enclosure during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony for Chinese panda bears Meng Meng and Jiao Qing at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Chinese panda bear Meng Meng is seen in its enclosure during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Zoo in Berlin, Germany July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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