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Bush: `Affront' to Chinese to skip Olympics start


President Bush said Sunday he does not feel the need to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics to state his opposition to China's human rights record. Skipping the event would be an "affront" to the Chinese people, he said.

Bush spoke at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who announced that he also plans to attend the ceremonies. Other world leaders have decided not to go as a rebuke to China's violent crackdown on anti-government protests in Tibet.

The U.S. and Japanese leaders met on the eve of this year's Group of Eight meeting of industrialized nations. At the summit, presidents and prime ministers hope for a deal that would set targets for reducing the pollution that causes global warming. But few analysts expect major headway or concessions from Bush. He insists on holding China and India, fast-growing economies and among the world's biggest polluters, to the same emission-reduction standards as older, developed economies.

Bush said that he hopes to get China and India to agree to a long-term goal to cut emissions. But he scaled back expectation about what the summit could achieve or what could result from meetings on the sidelines with leaders of large gas-emitting nations.

The president said he was "realistic enough to tell you that if China and India don't share that same aspiration, that we're not going to solve the problem."

Fukuda is seeking agreement for 50 percent overall reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. He hedged when asked whether the U.S. was holding up any such deal.

Bush arrived for his last G-8 summit as he turned 62 and with fewer than 200 days left in office. Overshadowing Bush's talks with other leaders is the White House election; at next year's summit, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama will set the U.S. agenda.

The site of this year's meetings is a heavily guarded luxury resort 2,051 feet above sea level atop Poromoi Mountain in Hokkaido, an island in northern Japan. Every hotel room has a view of either Lake Toya, formed in a crater left behind by a collapsed volcano, and Mount Yotei to the east, or Uchiura Bay on the Pacific Ocean to the west.

During the next several days, Bush will delve into global warming, oil prices, aid to Africa, international trade and Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs, with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.

Before focusing on those global challenges, Bush first sought to address Tokyo's concerns that progress in ending a nuclear standoff with North Korea has not helped settled the sensitive issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the North.

Japan is an important participant in the six-nation talks that led to North Korea's recent declaration about its nuclear activities. Japanese citizens are upset about the U.S. move to remove the communist country from the State Department's terror blacklist in exchange for North Korea's decision to admit to some of its weapons work.

As a condition for sending aid and improving relations with the impoverished North, Japan long has pushed for the resolution of North Korea's kidnappings of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. The abductees apparently were used to train North Korean agents in Japanese language and customs.

Bush said he understands Japan's "sensitivity" about the matter. "I am aware that the people want to make sure that the abduction issue is not ignored and that there are suspicions about whether or not the North Koreans will be fully forthcoming," he said, standing next to the prime minister.

The president said getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons was one step and required verification. He said North Korea did provide a declaration of its plutonium-related activities and did blow up the cooling tower of its reactor at Yongbyon.

The North needs to do more, he said, citing U.S. concerns about its enriched uranium, arms proliferation, human rights abuses and ballistic missile programs. "I view this process as a multistep process where there be action for action," he said.

Fukuda said he told Bush it was extremely important to examine North Korea's declaration and verify its contents as a step toward the complete end of North Korea's nuclear efforts. "At the same time, I told him it is important to solve the abduction issue," Fukuda said. "President Bush said he agreed with me. ... He told me he would never forget the abduction issue."

Source - AP


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