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PM won't be attending Beijing opening ceremonies

April 5, 2008

Thu. Apr. 3 2008 News Staff

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called on China to respect human
rights but suggested it is premature to think of boycotting the 2008
Olympics opening ceremonies -- though he said he has no plans to
personally attend the event.

Harper was speaking to reporters in Bucharest, Romania where a key NATO
summit is taking place.

At the same news conference, Harper announced his goal of convincing
other members to ante-up 1,000 troops, as well as equipment, had been
achieved and Canada would be extending its military role beyond the
February 2009 deadline.

Harper said Canada would be sending high-ranking representatives to the
opening ceremonies. He suggested the world is watching China's behaviour

"I would continue to urge China to respect human rights and peaceful
protest, not just in Tibet but everywhere," Harper said.

"And I would also encourage the government of China to understand that
its growing wealth, its growing profile in the world and of course the
profile of the Olympics will put a greater and greater spotlight on its
record in this regard."

International concerns about China's handling of recent unrest in Tibet
will only escalate if things don't change, Harper said.

"My strong advice would be to take these concerns seriously because I
think they are likely to grow rather than diminish if we see a
repetition of the current pattern," Harper said.
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