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Sarkozy won't rule out Olympic boycott

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Latest update : 2008-03-26

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that "all options are open" regarding a possible boycott of the Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony in the wake of Tibetan unrest.


TARBES, France, March 25  - French President
Nicolas Sarkozy urged China on Tuesday to show responsibility
over the unrest in Tibet and refused to rule out boycotting the
opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.
 

Sarkozy spoke shortly after a media rights group which
staged a brief protest at the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in
Greece on Monday urged him to threaten to boycott the Games'
opening ceremony because of Tibet.
 

"I don't close the door to any option, but I think it's more
prudent to reserve my responses to concrete developments in the
situation," Sarkozy said, when asked about a possible boycott.
 

Aides later said he was talking only of a possible boycott
of the opening ceremony, not of the Games in general.
 

"All options are open but I appeal to the sense of
responsibility of Chinese authorities," he said.
 

France has called for an end to the violence, in which
Tibet's government-in-exile says 140 people have been killed.
But like other Western governments, it has rejected the idea of
boycotting the Games.
 

Sarkozy said China had to understand there was worldwide
concern over the situation in Tibet and he said action would
depend on how its leaders responded.
 

"I want dialogue to begin and I will graduate my response
according to the response given by Chinese authorities," he
said.
 

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has called on China to let
foreign media into Tibet and on Tuesday called for an end to
China's "repression" of dissent there.
 


 

MORE PROTESTS
 

Rights group Reporters Without Borders urged officials to
boycott the opening ceremony because of China's human rights
record in Tibet and elsewhere.
 

The group, known by its French acronym RSF, staged a brief
protest at Monday's torch-lighting ceremony when three of its
activists broke through a tight security cordon at the site that
hosted the Olympics in ancient Greece.
 

One of them approached Beijing Games chief Liu Qi during his
speech in front of hundreds of officials but was quickly led
away by police.
 

"We are asking heads of state and government, and here in
France Mr Sarkozy, to say today that if the (rights) situation
does not improve in Tibet and in the rest of China, they will
not be present on August 8 at the opening ceremony of the
Olympic Games," RSF chief Robert Menard told reporters.
 

Kouchner said last week that the idea was interesting and
worth discussing but that it did not have the French
government's support. He later said it was unrealistic.
 

"There will be other possible demonstrations. We will
continue," RSF's Menard, who was one of the three activists
arrested in Greece, told reporters at the main Paris airport
after his release from Greek police custody.

Date created : 2008-03-26

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