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Sweden opposes Olympic opening boycott

AFP · 28 Mar 2008, 16:02

Published: 28 Mar 2008 16:02 GMT+01:00

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"I have never thought that boycotts were a particularly effective instrument of foreign affairs," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said as he arrived at the start of two days of talks with his EU counterparts in Slovenia.

On the other side of the diplomatic fence, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk along with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves have said they will not be at the official games opening.

Bildt argued that a boycott of the 1980 games in Moscow had had no effect.

"Foreign policy should have a lot of better instruments than participation or non-participation in sports ceremonies," he added at the talks venue in Brdo Pri Kranju near the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.

"We are calling for a dialogue inside China, between the Dalai Lama and the authorities in Beijing."

His opinion was echoed by his Portuguese counterpart Luis Amado, who said it was "not the moment" to discuss a boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony to be held in Beijing on August 8th.

Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos also declared himself "absolutely" against such a boycott.

"The Olympic games are the best way to create a platform against crises, to put in place a political dialogue on other problems. Therefore no boycott."

The three EU nations thus joined Britain in its anti-boycott stance.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Thursday that he would personally attend the opening ceremony.

Several other nations have not yet made their position clear.

Protests started in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, on March 10 to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet.

China says rioters killed 18 innocent civilians and two police officers, while exiled Tibetan leaders have put the death toll from the Chinese crackdown at around 140, with another 1,000 people injured and many detained.

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country will take over the EU's presidency from Slovenia in July, has promised to consult with all 27 European Union member states.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, also in Slovenia Friday, spoke of the possibility of finding "a common position" during lunch talks on the subject here on Saturday.

No one is calling for a total boycott of the games, he assured.

"It is necessary for the Chinese to know that we are not anti-Chinese," he added.

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