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Tibet not an Olympic issue -- China

July 2, 2008

Agence France-Presse
From correspondents in Beijing
July 1, 2008 06:55pm

CHINA has insisted that Tibet should not be linked to the Olympics,
after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his attendance at the
opening ceremony hinged on Chinese talks with the Dalai Lama.

"We oppose connecting Tibetan-related issues with the Beijing
Olympics and we oppose politicising the Beijing Olympics," foreign
ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

"Tibetan affairs is an internal affair of China and the contact
between the central government and the private representatives of the
Dalai is also an internal affair of China," Mr Liu said.

Mr Liu was asked to comment on statements made by Mr Sarkozy in Paris
yesterday that his attendance at the opening ceremony would depend on
progress in talks between China and envoys of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's
exiled spiritual leader.

Mr Sarkozy said he would announce next week whether he would attend
the opening ceremony in the Chinese capital.

"If they continue to progress and if the Dalai Lama and the Chinese
president recognise this progress, then all obstacles to my
participation will have been lifted," Mr Sarkozy said.

Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama's envoys were due to begin
two-days of fence minding talks in Beijing today. However Mr Liu
would not say whether the talks had begun.

The decision by China to hold the talks was widely seen as a response
to international condemnation of its crackdown on protests in Tibet
in March that embarrassed Beijing ahead of the Olympics.
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