Olympic opening splits cabinet

The issue of Chinese human rights is dividing the Dutch cabinet on whether prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and junior sport minister Jet Bussemaker should attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday, report various media.

Foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen said yesterday that human rights in China have not improved in the run up to the games. This makes the presence of Balkenende at the opening hypocritical, according to the orthodox Christian ChristenUnie (CU).
But its two bigger coalition partners, the Christian Democrats and Labour, feel it is important that dialogue with China on the issue of human rights is kept open.
Labour MP Luuk Blom told ANP that he expects ‘strong words’ from Balkenende and Bussemaker at the opening ceremony.
A number of organisations supporting Birma and Tibet are planning demonstrations on the Dam square in Amsterdam during the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday afternoon.

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