Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Saturday, 5 April 2008 16:35 UK

Brown rules out Beijing boycott

Beijing Olympics committee head Liu Qi (R) hands the torch to Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) on 31 March 2008
The relay was launched from Beijing's Tiananmen Square

Gordon Brown has said he will not boycott the Beijing Olympics because the Dalai Lama opposes such action.

The prime minister said the only way for the Chinese and Tibetans to resolve their tensions was through dialogue.

Mr Brown has also resisted calls not to welcome the Olympic torch in Downing Street when it arrives in London.

It comes as four pro-Tibet activists are arrested for abseiling off Westminster Bridge and unveiling a protest banner.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had increased the pressure on Mr Brown by telling him not to attend the Games in August or this weekend's torch relay.

Mr Brown's comments come as 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.

Eighty athletes, entertainers and dignitaries will carry the torch on a 31-mile long journey through London's streets on Sunday as part of its journey to the Beijing 2008 games.

But activists critical of the Chinese government have vowed to stage protests along the route of the procession.


Speaking at a conference of international centre-left leaders, Mr Brown said: "Any violence in China is to be condemned and I do urge restraint all round.

"It is important that we recognise that the tensions between those in Tibet and the Chinese authorities can only in the end be solved by dialogue."

He should be saying, 'Sort out your problems in Tibet and improve your human rights record there,' instead of receiving this torch
Matt Whitticase
Free Tibet campaign

He added: "The Dalai Lama himself says he does not want to see a boycott of the Olympics and that is why I have said that as the host country for the 2012 Olympics I will attend the (Beijing) Olympics as I know many others will do."

The four protesters from Students for a Free Tibet UK abseiled down the bridge and unfurled a protest banner which read "One World, One Dream: Free Tibet 2008."

The Metropolitan Police intends to mobilise 2,000 officers to maintain order along the relay route on Sunday.

A spokesman said six organisations, including the Free Tibet movement, the Falun Gong spiritual group and the Burma campaign, were planning to send a total of up to 500 demonstrators.

Free Tibet spokesman Matt Whitticase said it was regrettable Mr Brown was to welcome the torch in Downing Street.

Opening ceremony

"He should be saying, 'Sort out your problems in Tibet and improve your human rights record there,' instead of receiving this torch, which is undoubtedly tainted by China's actions inside Tibet," he added.

Mr Clegg told Five Live it was "wholly inappropriate" for the PM to take part in the London torch ceremony.

"Equally I think it would be wrong of him, if there wasn't any great change in the stance of the Chinese government, to take any role in the opening ceremony of the Games themselves."

1: Wembley 1030BST
2: Ladbroke Grove 1100
3: British Museum 1220
4: China Town 1230
5: Trafalgar Square 1250
6: Southbank Centre 1330
7: Somerset House 1415
8: St Paul's Cathedral 1430
9: Potter's Fields 1500
10: Whitechapel Road 1530
11: Stratford 1600
12: Canary Wharf 1700
13: North Greenwich 1800
Source: Mayor of London

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