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Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Saturday, 5 April 2008 18:04 UK

Sarkozy aide 'misquoted' on Games

Rama Yade, file picture from 22 June 2007
Ms Yade denied setting out conditions for Mr Sarkozy's attendance in Beijing

France's human rights minister has denied setting conditions for President Nicolas Sarkozy's attendance at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

Rama Yade said Le Monde newspaper had misquoted her as listing "conditions" for Mr Sarkozy's presence at the event.

"The word 'conditions' was never used," she said. Le Monde stood by its story.

Ms Yade had been quoted as saying Mr Sarkozy would miss the event unless China freed political prisoners and agreed to talk to the Dalai Lama.

Le Monde had quoted Ms Yade as saying: "Three conditions are essential for him to attend: an end to violence against the population and the liberation of political prisoners; light shed on the events in Tibet; and the opening of a dialogue with the Dalai Lama."

Torch in Paris

A presidential spokesman declined to comment on Ms Yade's interview, but Mr Sarkozy himself has not ruled out boycotting the opening ceremony.

Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy opposes a full boycott of the Games

He said last month that although he was opposed to a full boycott of the Games he could "not close the door to any possibility" when it came to his own attendance.

With the Olympic torch due to arrive in Paris on Monday, it may be that the French government chose this moment to spell out to Beijing that its threat of staying away from the opening ceremony is a real one, correspondents say.

US President George W Bush plans to attend the Olympic opening ceremony on 8 August, while UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown intends to go to the closing ceremony.

Several Western nations have called for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, but China has accused him of orchestrating the recent violence.

Saturday's dispute coincides with new reports of riots in a Tibetan area of western China.


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