Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 12:08 UK

IOC chief speaks out over Tibet

Pro-Tibet demonstrators hold a portrait of the Dalai Lama during a protest on 7 April 2008
Protests have taken place in Paris

The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, has expressed concern over recent unrest in Tibet.

Speaking at an IOC meeting in Beijing, Mr Rogge said the IOC "called for a rapid, peaceful resolution of Tibet".

He also condemned attempts to disrupt the Olympic torch relay, saying violence "is not compatible with the values" of the Olympic Games.

Protests are taking place in Paris in the latest leg of the torch relay.

Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympic organising committee, said demonstrations on Sunday in London - which saw protesters trying to douse and even snatch the Olympic flame - were the work of "a few Tibetan separatists", the Associated Press reported.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua says attempts to sabotage the relay "will surely arouse the resentment of peace loving people".

The BBC's James Reynolds in Beijing says the Chinese government seems to be adopting a policy of delaying the reporting of protests and then playing down their significance.

Xinhua took six hours to respond to the protests, our correspondent says, and the state-run China Daily newspaper ran the headline "Warm reception in cold London" - together with a picture of Prime Minister Gordon Brown applauding the torch's arrival.

The Chinese have made sure that for a few hours, Paris will look like Tiananmen Square
Robert Menard
Reporters Without Borders

The demonstrations have been sparked by China's security crackdown in Tibet following a series of protests against Chinese rule which swept the region last month.

Tibetan exile groups say Chinese security forces killed dozens of protesters. Beijing says about 19 people were killed in rioting.

'No disruption'

Mr Rogge made his comments in a speech at the beginning of a three-day meeting of National Olympic Committee heads in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

Our correspondent in Beijing says that although Mr Rogge has made similar remarks before, the fact that he was speaking in China appears to give his comments extra weight.

The Olympic torch arrived at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport late on Sunday after being flown from London with a Chinese security detail.

A Tibet protester tries to block the Olympic torch relay in London 6/4/08
China has expressed disgust at the torch protests in London

Hundreds of police are being deployed on the streets of Paris to protect the Olympic torch relay from opponents of China's actions in Tibet.

Pro-Tibet activists have said they plan to hold demonstrations in the capital.

However, Jan Willem, spokesman for the International Campaign for Tibet, told the BBC that the protest in Paris will not disrupt the torch relay.

Mr Willem said supporters will gather for a demonstration at the Place du Trocadero, which will include music by French and Tibetan artists, then march together to the Eiffel Tower.

"We have consistently asked our members and supporters to hold peaceful demonstrations which don't disrupt the torch relay, so we will focus on the issues which matter for Tibetans inside Tibet," Mr Willem said.

'Head of state' protection

The 80 runners are being guarded on the 28km (18 mile) route by a cordon of 65 motorcycles, 200 police on rollerblades or running nearby, and 200 riot police.

Police plan to secure a 200m (660ft) perimeter around the torch as it is carried from the Eiffel Tower, down the Champs-Elysees towards City Hall, then over the River Seine to the southern Charlety athletics stadium.

One man attempted to snatch the torch from UK TV presenter Konnie Huq
A man tried to snatch the torch from TV presenter Konnie Huq in London

The Paris police chief has said the flame will be protected like a head of state.

The head of the Paris-based media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, said it had altered its initial plans for similar demonstrations because of the expected heavy police presence, but nevertheless promised something "spectacular".

"The Chinese have made sure that for a few hours, Paris will look like Tiananmen Square," Robert Menard said. "I think it's shameful."

Police hope the elaborate security "bubble" will protect the relay from the persistent pro-Tibet protests which disrupted its passage through London.

Thirty-seven arrests were made in London on Sunday as protesters tried to seize the torch and disrupt the relay.

At one point, the torch was transferred onto a bus to protect it from the demonstrators.

The torch was lit in Olympia, Greece, last week and will go through 20 countries before being carried into the Beijing Games opening ceremony on 8 August.

Torch lit in Olympia on 24 March and taken on five-day relay around Greece to Athens
After handover ceremony, it is taken to Beijing on 31 March to begin a journey of 136,800 km (85,000 miles) around the world
Torch arrives in Macao on 3 May. After three-month relay all around China, it arrives in Beijing for opening ceremony on 8 August

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