UN adopts truce resolution for Beijing Games

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BEIJING, Nov 1 (Reuters) The UN General Assembly has adopted the Olympic truce resolution for the 2008 Beijing Games in New York in the face of opposition from activists pushing fora free Tibet.

The resolution, a form of which has been passed before every Olympics since the early 1990s, calls upon the 182 UN member states to ''observe and promote peace during and beyond'' next August's Games.

The Free Tibet Campaign sent a letter to the British government highlighting ''the glaring discrepancy between China's appalling human rights record in China and Tibet and the Spirit of the Olympic Truce''.

The letter called on Britain to instruct its ambassador to the United Nations to contest the holding of the Games in a country ''that so flagrantly violates the spirit of the Olympic movement''.

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950. The Dalai Lama, Tibet's god-king, fled to India after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and is now reviled by Beijing as a separatist.

Olympic chief Jacques Rogge, in a speech to the United Nations before the resolution was passed, reiterated his view that engaging with China by holding the sporting spectacle in Beijing would have long-term benefits for the whole world.

''In China, the Beijing 2008 Summer Games have already delivered important social, legislative and economic benefits,'' he said. ''It is better to open a new door to China than to leave it closed at this point in its modern evolution.'' The Olympic truce concept goes back to Ancient Greece when warring parties were called on to lay down their arms while their athletes competed.

''In a world too often torn apart by war, environmental degradation, poverty and disease, we see sport as a calling to serve humanity,'' Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said.

''That is why this resolution is so important.'' Several human rights groups have criticised the award of the Games to China, while others have tried to use the Games as a way of putting pressure on Beijing over their stance towards issues such as Tibet and the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

During the one-year countdown to the Games celebrations in August, police arrested and then deported a group of Westerners who unfurled a banner at the Great Wall calling for Tibet's independence.

Such behaviour during the Games would not be tolerated, a Chinese police spokesman said.

''Any organisation or individual who organises gatherings, marches or demonstrations during the Beijing Olympics, must respect Chinese laws,'' Wu Heping told a news conference.

''The police will safeguard legal activities, but will deal with illegal ones in accordance with the law,'' he said, without elaborating.

But top Beijing Games organiser Liu Qi, who is also head of the city's Communist Party, brushed off any worries about protests or other disruptions in welcoming the UN resolution.

''Beijing 2008 is heartened by the overwhelming support and endorsement given to the Olympic truce by the international community at the United Nations,'' Liu said.

''Their solidarity reinforces the global desire for peace and a cessation of all acts of hostilities during the Olympic period.'' REUTERS RAR AS1121

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