Bush ignores demand for Beijing Olympics boycott

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Washington, Mar 21 (UNI) US President George Bush will attend the Beijing Olympics next August as originally planned, thus ignoring the demand made by some international human rights groups and Tibetan activists in protest against the violence in Tibet.

Certainly the President wants to make sure that our athletes have a really good experience, and I think that most heads of state around the world believe that, too, White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday.

She said, it is a chance for that country to put its best face forward, and it's also a chance for other countries to learn more about the country.

Referring to the development in Tibet, she said, we have expressed those concerns. And that's something that President and Secretary [of State Condoleezza] Rice can do that other citizens, concerned citizens around the world aren't able to do, just because they're not elected as a head of state.

But the President, as head of state, has spoken very frankly to President Hu Jintao and Ms Rice has done the same with her counterparts, and we will continue to do so, Ms Perino said.

When her attention was drawn to the US boycott of Moscow Olympics in protest against the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in 1980, the White House Spokeswoman said, a trip like this would offer an opportunity to President Bush to meet his Chinese counter Mr Hu and discuss all the issue very frankly in a private setting.

Now, if you're looking back in terms of 1980, I don't know if this President would have made that same decision, and we're not going to relitigate it, but this President certainly hopes that our athletes who are training very hard have the best possible experience at the Olympics, Ms Perino said.

Earlier, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Wednesday evening for 20 minutes and discussed the crisis in Tibet.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said she reiterated the US call for restraint on the part of the Chinese government in dealing with protesters in these areas.

McCormack said Rice also urged her Chinese counterpart to hold talks with the Dalai Lama.

McCormack said the United States had requested access to Tibet to make an assessment of the situation there but what the Chinese government had so far not granted the request.

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