France threatens to boycott Beijing Olympics

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{image-beijing games_26032008.jpg}Paris, March 16: President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested Tuesday that a boycott of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics was a possibility, making him the first world leader to raise the prospect of punishing China over its crackdown in Tibet.

The United States, Britain and Germany condemned China for using force against Tibetan protesters, but stopped short of threatening to boycott the Games or the opening ceremonies. Mr. Sarkozy, who had faced rising criticism in France for his relative silence on the issue, couched his comments cautiously. He made it clear that skipping the ceremonies on Aug. 8 was one of several possible French responses to the violence in Tibet.

Our Chinese friends must understand the worldwide concern that there is about the question of Tibet, and I will adapt my response to the evolutions in the situation that will come, I hope, as rapidly as possible," he said. Asked whether he supported a boycott, Mr. Sarkozy said he could “not close the door to any possibility."

The timing of his comments appeared aimed at persuading other world leaders to join him. He will travel Wednesday to Britain, host of the 2012 Olympics, and European Union foreign ministers will meet Friday.'

British officials have ruled out a boycott, saying close cooperation with China is the best way to influence it.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke by telephone last week with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China and had said he would meet in May with the Dalai Lama. Mr. Brown"s office said he would attend the closing ceremonies of the Olympics as planned.

OneIndia News

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