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French President Won't Rule Out Olympics Boycott


French President Nicolas Sarkozy says 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 Tuesday he wants to see dialogue between Chinese leaders and representatives of the exiled Tibetan government. France has so far rejected an Olympics boycott, but Mr. Sarkozy said a final decision will depend on how China handles the situation in Tibet.

The French leader's remarks echo calls from other world leaders for China to stop using force against Tibetans and meet with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. On Monday, Mr. Sarkozy offered to help facilitate talks between China and the Dalai Lama.

Most world leaders are opposed to the possibility of a boycott, stressing that the Games are a sporting competition, not a political event.

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.

Chinese state media have made no mention of Monday's protests, and have called the lighting ceremony a success.

The torch will now travel 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.

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.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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