US speaker wants Bush to skip Beijing Olympics opening

April 2nd, 2008 - 11:28 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 2 (IANS) US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who raised the hackles of the Chinese government by meeting the Dalai Lama on her recent India trip, wants US President George W. Bush to skip the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics this summer to protest events in Tibet. But she does not want the US to boycott the Games. In a TV talk show, Pelosi asked President George W. Bush to stay away from the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics this summer without any US boycott of the Games as such.

The Games should go on, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday, stressing: “There’s a difference between that (opening) ceremony and the actual athletic events.”

The White House has ruled out Bush’s staying away from the Olympics saying this grand event was about athletics, not politics.

Pelosi has also asked the Chinese government to negotiate with the Dalai Lama on Tibetan autonomy.

“I myself am personally calling once again on the Chinese government to join, to sustain negotiations with His Holiness for a peaceful outcome to what is happening in Tibet for their autonomy,” she said Tuesday in a statement about her visit to India.

Asking Beijing “to immediately have independent outside monitors to review what happened in Tibet,” Pelosi said: “As fate would have it, when we planned out trip, we really didn’t realise what would be happening following March 10 (anniversary of the uprising against Chinese rule) in Tibet.”

The US Congressional delegation only planned to visit the Tibetan spiritual leader living in exile in India “to pay our respects to him, to join in his ongoing call for negotiations with the Chinese government for autonomy for Tibet”, she said.

“Again, as fate would have it on March 10, the 49th anniversary of the Chinese driving His Holiness the Dalai Lama out of China, the protests there were met by a crackdown of the Chinese government, so we were there at a time when again, it was our fate to be there, and our fate to help,” Pelosi said.

The Chinese government were calling the Dalai Lama - “a person who is the personification of non-violence” - “the instigator of violence”, she said, demanding: “They must have medical care brought in for those who have been deprived of it, to free those in prison who have been arrested for peacefully protesting”.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey hoped that the latest Chinese statements about the Dalai Lama’s alleged involvement in some kind of suicide plot did not mean China would refuse all US calls for a dialogue.

“Certainly, we think it’s appropriate for Chinese officials to engage in dialogue and discussion with the Dalai Lama,” he told reporters. “And hopefully, this won’t be the last word from the Chinese government with respect to him.

“He is an individual who has always acted in the best interests of his community. He’s an individual who is a man of peace and someone who supports a non-violent process of dialogue and discussion to resolve these issues,” Casey said.

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