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Paris denies Olympic 'conditions'
Human rights minister says she did not use the term in a newspaper interview.
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2008 22:38 GMT
Sarkozy has said he could "possibly" boycott the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony [EPA]


France's human rights minister has denied saying the country's president would only attend the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony if China met certain conditions on Tibet.
 
Rama Yade, in a statement on Saturday that came hours after the comments appeared in an interview in France's Le Monde newspaper, denied using the term "conditions".
The paper had quoted her as saying Sarkozy would only attend if China opened talks with the Dalai Lama, released political prisoners and investigated recent unrest its Tibet region.
 
The paper quoted her as saying the "three conditions" were "essential for him [Sarkozy] to attend" the ceremony.
Just hours after the publication of the interview, Yade issued a brief statement denying the remarks attributed to her.

"I want to point out that during the interview I gave to a journalist with Le Monde ... the term 'conditions' was not used," her statement said.
 
"The president has said all options remain open and that he will make a decision on whether to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games when the time is right, depending on how the situation in Tibet develops," she added.
 
Le Monde said it stood by its interview, which was picked up by the international media and prompted the Beijing Olympics organisers to respond that Sarkozy's threat was a personal matter and would not effect the staging of the Games.
 
Possible boycott
 
France was one of the first countries to suggest shunning the opening ceremony on August 8, but later backtracked, leading some to suggest economic ties with China were too important to risk jeopardising with a boycott.

Over the last month, protests in Tibet, an autonomus region of China since 1951 have spread to other parts of China and have angered and embarrassed Beijing, highlighting what had been a controversial decision in July 2001 to award the 2009 Olympic Games to China.
 
But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president on Saturday said he saw no momentum for a boycott of the Olympics opening ceremony.
 
Jacques Rogge also insisted he had no regrets about awarding the Games to China, but acknowledged a report by rights group  Amnesty International that suggests China's human rights record is worsening.
 
"I have said many times that the IOC considers it is a wise choice in awarding the Games to Beijing and we have no regrets," he said in Singapore, which will host the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.
 
While no country has announced a boycott of the Olympics, to be held in August, activist groups had stepped up calls for such action.

Human rights
 
The IOC has long argued that the Olympics will be a force for good in China and that the event would help promote human rights.
 
The Chinese government has said 22 people died in the violence and crackdown on the Tibetan protests in China, but Tibetan exiles claim about 140 people were killed.

The Olympic torch relay ahead of the Beijing Games is expected to be beset by pro-Tibet demonstrations.

It will be carried through Paris on Monday protected by a cordon of 65 motorcycle police, 100 firemen, another 100 police on roller blades and nearly 50 vehicles with more than 200 riot police.

The flame arrived in London on Saturday for a relay across the British capital on Sunday.
Source:
Agencies
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