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IOC president meets Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

IOC president while meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao discussed preparations for the Beijing Games, which have been overshadowed by protests over China's human rights.
AP | By HT Correspondent, Beijing
UPDATED ON APR 09, 2008 01:20 PM IST

IOC president Jacques Rogge was meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday to discuss preparations for the Beijing Games, which have been overshadowed by protests over China's human rights record and disruptions of the Olympic torch relay.

IOC executive board member Gerhard Heiberg confirmed to The Associated Press that Rogge was holding talks with Wen. In addition, the IOC scheduled a special executive board meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

The meetings come amid heightened concern over the torch relay, which was hit by chaotic protests in London and Paris by activists opposed to China's crackdown in Tibet and other policies.

Tight security has been put in place for expected massive protests during the next leg of the relay in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Rogge expressed "deep concern" on Tuesday over the violent nature of the protests and said the IOC board would review the plans for the rest of the relay. The IOC is also considering scrapping the international legs of future torch relays.

"We recognize the right for people to protest and express their views, but it should be nonviolent. We are very sad for all
the athletes and the people who expected so much from the run and have been spoiled of their joy," Rogge said.

Rogge said in an AP interview at the lighting of the Olympic flame in Greece last month that he was pursuing "quiet diplomacy" with the Chinese over human rights and other issues. He said he would meet with Wen during the current Olympic conference in Beijing.

"I have a series of points to discuss with him and I'm sure he has points to discuss with me," Rogge said then.

The torch began its 85,000-mile (136,800-kilometer) journey from Ancient Olympia in Greece to Beijing on March 24, and was the focus of protests from the start.

The round-the-world trip is the longest in Olympic history, and is meant to highlight China's rising economic and political power.

After San Francisco, the torch is scheduled to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then to a dozen other countries.

The relay also is expected to face demonstrations in New Delhi and possibly elsewhere on its 21-stop, six-continent tour before arriving in mainland China May 4. The Olympics begin on Aug. 8.

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