China is lending two giant pandas to the Netherlands, foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders said on Monday.
The minister was speaking in Beijing on the second day of a state visit by king Willem-Alexander and queen Máxima.
The loan is ‘a sign of the special bond between China and the Netherlands’, the minister told Dutch media.
The loan is definitely a sign of close ties between the two countries, but the Netherlands has been pushing for it for some time, according to Volkskrant reporter Marije Vlaskamp.
‘Prime minister Mark Rutte did not ask explicitly during his visit to China two years ago, but he hardly stopped talking about it,’ she writes.
The pandas are not a gift and will cost the Netherlands money, although how high the cost will be is not known.
The pandas will housed at Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen, but it is not yet known when they will arrive. ‘It depends on the preparations, including the building of an enclosure for them,’ a spokesman told the Volkskrant.
Junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma says she has signed an agreement with the Chinese forestry commission for the two animals. She says it offers the opportunity for working together on other animal protection programmes.
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