France wants European Union to decide on Olympic boycott

Other News Materials 25 April 2008 06:12 (UTC +04:00)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday he will push for a European Union-wide agreement on whether to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, the AP reported.

Sarkozy has said he could boycott the ceremony in response to China's crackdown on demonstrators in Tibet last month, but he has softened his tone since a rash of protests broke out last weekend in front of French-owned supermarkets throughout China.

If no progress is made before the Aug. 8-24 games, he said he would try to seek "a united position" among the EU's 27 member states. France will hold the rotating EU presidency at that time.

"Everyone will assume their responsibilities," he said in an interview broadcast live on French television Thursday night.

He also said France is trying "to create the conditions for a dialogue" between Chinese authorities and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Sarkozy said he was "shocked by what happened in Tibet" but insisted China should not be marginalized from the international scene. As an economic giant and a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, China is owed respect, he said.

Sarkozy's boycott threat and raucous protests by pro-Tibet supporters during the Olympic torch relay in Paris on April 7 have rankled many in China and sparked a series of anti-French demonstrations.

Sarkozy has sought to soothe the tensions, sending a letter to a disabled Chinese athlete attacked during the Paris torch relay, and sending senior officials to China this week.