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Bush says won't criticise China at Olympics
LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush said he would go to China for the Olympics but would not talk publicly there about Beijing's policies since he urges its president in private to do more to relieve suffering in Darfur.
Bush said movie director Steven Spielberg's decision to quit his Beijing Olympics role because of China's policies in Sudan was a personal decision.
"It's up to him. I am going to the Olympics, I view the Olympics as a sporting event," Bush said, speaking to BBC World News America before flying to Africa.
He said in meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao "I do remind him that he can do more to relieve the suffering in Darfur."
"There are a lot of issues that I suspect people are going to opine about during the Olympics -- the Dalai Lama crowd, you've got the Global Warming folks, you got Darfur.
"I am not going to go and use the Olympics as an opportunity to express my opinions to the Chinese people in a public way because I do it all the time with the President."
Bush also defended what he called his "seminal decision" not to send U.S. troops to Darfur despite what he called the genocide there.
His decision not intervene by force was taken partly out of the desire not to send U.S. troops into another Muslim country, he said.
"I was pretty well backed off of it by a lot of folks here in America who care deeply about the issue. Once you make that decision you have to rely upon an international organisation like the United Nations to provide the oomph," he said.
"It is a decision I am now living with and it is a decision that requires us to continue to rally the conscience of the world," he added.
International experts say some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million fled their homes in more than four years of conflict since Darfur rebels took up arms against Sudan's government, prompting Khartoum to mobilise mainly Arab militias.
Spielberg said his conscience would not allow him to continue working as an artistic adviser to the August Games and he pledged to spend his time and energy not on Olympic ceremonies, but on trying to end the "unspeakable crimes against humanity" in Darfur.
On Monday, nine Nobel Peace Prize winners wrote a letter to China asking it to uphold the Olympic ideals by pressuring Sudan over Darfur.
China is accused by critics of shielding Khartoum in the face of international efforts to send peacekeepers to Darfur. It says the Games should not be politicised and any link made between Darfur and the Olympics is irresponsible and unfair.
(Reporting by Paul Majendie; Editing by Charles Dick)
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