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China Pressured Over Tibet in UN Human Rights Council


China has come under pressure at the United Nation's human rights forum over its handling of sometimes violent protests in Tibet.

In a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council Tuesday, the European Union urged Beijing to stop using force against Tibetan protesters.

The United States, Australia and Canada joined the EU in expressing concern over recent events in Tibet.

Also Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country will not rule out a possible boycott of the Beijing Olympics if China fails to deal responsibly with the recent unrest in Tibet.

Mr. Sarkozy said he wants to see dialogue between Chinese leaders and representatives of the exiled Tibetan government. On Monday, he offered to help facilitate the talks.

The United States (White House and State Department) said Tuesday that its position on the Olympics remains unchanged.

Like most countries, the United States says it opposes an Olympics boycott, stressing that the Games are a sporting competition, not a political event.

A spokesman for the Dalai Lama told VOA (Mandarin service) Tuesday that the Tibetan exile government has asked groups protesting in India to stop. The spokesman said the Tibetan exile activists refused.

On Monday, human rights protesters disrupted the lighting ceremony for the Olympic torch in Ancient Olympia, Greece. After the ceremony, pro-Tibet activists tried to block the torch's relay course as it began its journey to the Beijing Summer Games.

China called the protesters' actions "shameful" and it has urged authorities in countries on the torch route to ensure smooth transit.

The torch is now being carried to Athens, site of the first modern Olympics. From Athens it will be flown to Beijing before embarking on its trek across the globe in the run-up to the August Summer Games. Pro-Tibet activists have vowed to follow it on its journey.

On one leg of its journey, the torch will pass through restive Tibet to Mount Everest. Human rights groups have called for a ban of that part of the journey until China agrees to allow an investigation of the recent unrest.

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