Bush to attend Beijing Olympics ceremony
US President George W Bush will attend the August 8 opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic despite appeals from human rights activists that he boycott the gala, the White House has said.
"... I'm not able to announce the president's schedule. But he is going to the Olympics. And I expect that the opening ceremonies could be a part of that trip.... That's what the president has said before, which is he believes he's going to China to support, first and foremost, our athletes. He sees this as sporting competition," Press Secretary Dana Perino said.
"But at the same time, just as he will this week when he sees President Hu, he'll talk to him about these important issues of human rights and especially religious freedom," said Perino.
The news was all but certain to draw angry reactions from human rights groups, whose appeals to Bush to skip the opening ceremonies grew louder in mid-March amid charges that Chinese authorities violently repressed political unrest in Tibet.
Perino said earlier that Bush was "pleased" that Beijing was holding talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader.
"But we also are pleased that the Dalai Lama and the Chinese are finally in discussions, and that's one of the things the president had called on.
"And every time he talks to President Hu, he talks to him about the importance of having a good relationship there with a peaceful man, of the Dalai Lama, but also, for all of China, that it's good to open up and to have better relations and to improve human rights there and make sure that people can live lives of freedom," she added.