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Politics & press news – Embassy 5 – February 2008

'Dignified' diplomacy, not boycott – says minister

Britain will conduct "dignified" negotiations with China about its human rights record and activities in Sudan in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics but will not boycott the games, a government minister recently told an audience of senior women diplomats.

Speaking at a talk hosted by the WDS, Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said China was a "proud country" that would not respond to "siren headlines", adding that Britain would work "diplomatically above and below the radar."

In winning the bid, China made "broad commitments" on human rights, said Ms Jowell, adding that while Beijing had honoured its pledges on press freedom for foreign journalists, local reporters still faced harassment.

In a broad-ranging talk, the Minister spoke about the legacy the London Olympics would leave and said Britain had a responsibility to show that it is realistic for a developing country to host the Olympics: "The Olympics should not be limited to a handful of rich western countries," she said.

Because engaging young people in sport was central to the success of the bid, she said Britain had embarked on youth programmes in five developing countries to tackle social ills.

For information on the WDS email the secretary at: secretary@wds-uk.org.uk

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