Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested Beijing will be sending more pandas to the US, calling them “envoys of friendship” as the two countries continue efforts to soothe tensions.
“We are ready to continue our co-operation with the United States on panda conservation, and do our best to meet the wishes of the Californians so as to deepen the friendly ties between our two peoples,” Mr Xi said on Wednesday night.
The Chinese President's remarks came after he and US President Joe Biden had their first in-person talks in more than a year on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in northern California.
The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington recently returned its three pandas – Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and Xiao Qi Ji – to China. They arrived in Chengdu last week, the zoo said.
“I was told that many American people, especially children, were really reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas, and went to the zoo to see them off,” Mr Xi said.
He did not say when or where China will send the new pandas, but suggested the San Diego Zoo in California could be their eventual home.
“I also learnt that the San Diego Zoo and the Californians very much look forward to welcoming pandas back,” he said.
Mr Xi arrived in California this week to attend the Apec forum. His visit to the US is the culmination of a months-long effort by Washington and Beijing to thaw tensions between them.
Mr Xi and Mr Biden said that they had pledged to restore military communications and co-operate on cracking down on fentanyl production.