Sarkozy "shocked" by repression of Tibet demonstrations

Other News Materials 25 April 2008 02:22 (UTC +04:00)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday he was "shocked" by the Chinese repression of Tibetan pro-independence demonstrations and conveyed his feelings to Beijing, the dpa reported.

"I was shocked by what happened in Tibet, and I told that to the Chinese president," Sarkozy said during a lengthy interview on French national television. But he added that China was helping the world in Darfur and with respect to Iran, and must therefore not be alienated.

" Tibet is part of China," the French president said, but added that "there must be more autonomy for the province."

In that regard, France was working to open a dialogue between Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama, he said.

Sarkozy also said he would not make a unilateral decision on whether he would boycott the August 8 opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

"At the time, France will occupy the presidency of the European Union" and will coordinate its response with the other 26 EU member states, he explained.

Foreign policy issues, regarding China, the Mideast and France's role in Afghanistan, occupied only part of Sarkozy's televised appearance, which was scheduled in response to his continuing unpopularity nearly one year after he was elected president.

Sarkozy also fielded questions from five journalists on education, purchasing power and economic reform as well as on domestic politics.

His second such appearance on television since taking office was widely considered as vital for Sarkozy's plans to carry out wide- ranging reforms and convince the French that he is a capable president.