U.S. President George Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao discussed human
rights and political freedoms in China, ahead of next month's Olympic Games in
Beijing. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Japan, where
the two leaders met on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of Eight leading
Human rights activists as well as some
Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress have urged President Bush to
boycott the opening ceremonies to protest restrictions on religious freedoms in
China, as well as Beijing's policies in Sudan, Tibet and Burma.
says his decision to attend the games in no way compromises his commitment to
human rights. Speaking to reporters following his talks with President Hu,
President Bush said he is looking forward to the opening ceremonies.
reminded him that not only am I coming but my wife, my mother and dad will be
there, and we are looking forward to your hospitality. And, of course, in this
context the president and I have constantly had discussions about human rights
and political freedom. He knows my position," said Mr. Bush. "And, as I told our
people, Mr. President, I don't need the Olympics to talk candidly with somebody
who I've got good relations with."
Mr. Bush says he is looking forward to
watching the American Olympic team compete, particularly against what he called
the mighty Chinese team.
"And, I'm hoping to get tickets for the U.S. /
Chinese basketball game," he said. "If you can help me get a ticket, I'd
President Hu says the American leader will be most
welcome at the opening ceremonies.
President Hu says he appreciates that
President Bush has expressed his opposition to politicizing the Beijing
Olympics. President Bush says not going to the opening ceremony would be an
affront to the Chinese people which he believes may make it more difficult to
speak frankly with Chinese leaders.
Several heads of state have said they
will not attend the games, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During
this G-Eight summit on the Japanese island, Hokkaido, both Japanese Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda and French President Nicholas Sarkozy confirmed their
intention to attend.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be at the
closing ceremony to accept the symbolic torch as the leader of the nation to
host the next Summer Games in 2012.
President Bush and President Hu also
discussed trade, counter-terrorism, energy, environmental protection and the
nuclear issues involving North Korea and Iran.
President Hu says close
cooperation between China and the United States not only serves the fundamental
interests of both countries, but also has a major impact on peace, stability and
prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
President Hu says he briefed
President Bush on the state of relations between China and Taiwan and hopes
Washington maintains its current policy toward the nation that Beijing considers
part of its people's republic.