News & Election Videos

Obama says he wouldn't attend the Olympics opening

The Associated Press

Democrat Barack Obama took issue Monday with President Bush's decision to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, saying he would go to Beijing only if he saw progress between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.

"In the absence of some sense of progress, in the absence of some sense from the Dalai Lama that there was progress, I would not have gone," the presidential candidate told reporters at a news conference.

Obama previously has called on the Republican president to boycott the ceremonies.

Bush said last week that he will attend opening ceremonies for the games in Beijing next month. Some world leaders plan to boycott the event because of China's human rights record and its handling of unrest in Tibet.

Chinese officials met last week with two envoys sent to Beijing by the Dalai Lama from his exile base in India.

A statement issued Saturday from the Tibetan side said another meeting would be held in October, but said it wished the Chinese leadership had taken "more tangible" steps during the talks. The Chinese side failed to agree to issue a joint statement committing the two sides to talks, it said

Obama said he "would liked to have seen some more aggressive efforts to encourage progress and talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.

"It strikes me that although some meetings have been taking place, that we were not aggressive in encouraging the Chinese government to make serious concessions there," he said.

Bush on Sunday defended his decision, saying that to skip the opening ceremonies would be an "affront" to the Chinese people.

Obama's Republican rival, John McCain, said in April that if he were president, he would only attend the opening ceremonies if China improves its record on human rights and other issues.