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Bush will attend opening of Beijing Olympics

  • Story Highlights
  • Some senators, including Hillary Clinton, sent Bush letter urging him not to attend
  • A number of world leaders have said they will not attend
  • Not attending: Angela Merkel, Poland's Donald Tusk, U.K.'s Gordon Brown
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing on August 8, the White House announced Thursday.

Some world leaders, including Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, have said they will not attend the opening ceremony in Beijing in response to human rights abuses in China. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also said she will not attend the ceremony, but Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's foreign minister, said when he announced her decision that it was not meant as a political protest.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose country will host the next summer Olympics, also will not attend the opening ceremony but plans to be at the closing ceremony.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution in April urging China to end its crackdown on Tibet and free nonviolent protesters imprisoned there. And a handful of senators, including former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, sent President Bush a letter urging him not to attend the opening ceremony, saying that "if the Chinese government is ever to treat its people with basic human rights, it must be sent a bold and clear message."

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Since the announcement that Beijing will host the games, human rights activists have decried the International Olympic Committee's decision. They say the games will provide an international public-relations platform for a Chinese government that denies its citizens basic human rights and has enforced a crackdown in Tibet, which lost its independence to China in 1951, over anti-Beijing demonstrations there.

Opponents of a boycott have argued that staying away from the games would only hurt Chinese citizens who have no control over their leaders.

Bush will also visit South Korea and Thailand as part of his August trip to Asia, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement issued Thursday.

"In China, the president looks forward to seeing President Hu (Jintao) and other senior Chinese leaders for discussions on a wide range of issues, including the way ahead on North Korean denuclearization," she said.

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