Canada PM says 'no' to Olympics opening

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{image-beijing games_05042008.jpg}Toronto, Apr 5: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that he will not attend the 2008 Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing.

Harper announced his decision while speaking to reporters on April 3, in Bucharest, Romania where a key NATO summit is taking place. He asked China to pay heed to the international community's concern over the violent situation in Tibet.''My advice - I know the government of China is not typically taking my advice - my strong advice would be to take these concerns seriously because I think they are likely to grow rather than diminish if we see a repetition of the current pattern,'' Harper said.

The Prime Minister also said the Olympics were an opportunity for Beijing to start addressing its poor human rights record.

''I would also encourage the government of China to understand that its growing wealth, its growing importance in the world and of course the profile of the Olympics will put a greater and greater spotlight on its record in this regard.'' Harper made it clear that Canada would not boycott the Olympics, saying the global sentiment was against such a step.

Canada will host the next Winter Olympics 2010, officially known as the XXI Olympic Winter Games, scheduled to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia.


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