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House Lawmakers Urge Bush to Boycott Olympics Over China's Human Rights Abuses

Fifteen House members, citing China's human rights abuses, on Tuesday urged President Bush to reconsider his decision to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer.

"It would be clearly inappropriate for you to attend the Olympic Games in China, given the increasingly repressive nature of that country's government," the lawmakers wrote in a letter organized by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

The letter was signed by 14 Democrats and Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California, a longtime critic of the Chinese government.

The letter cited China's recent crackdown of protests in Tibet, the Beijing government's close economic ties with the government of Sudan and recent suppression of religious and human rights advocates. It noted that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had said he may not attend the opening ceremonies because of the situation in Tibet and that leaders in other countries were considering a boycott off the opening ceremonies.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in an interview with ABC Television, also urged Bush to consider staying away the opening ceremonies as a symbolic gesture against China's actions in Tibet. She said she did not support a boycott of the games by athletes.

Bush has taken the position that the Olympics are about athletic competition, not politics, but he sharply confronted China's President Hu Jintao recently about Beijing's harsh crackdown in Tibet.