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Bush to attend Olympic Opening Ceremony -

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ELEANOR HALL: The President of the United States, George W. Bush, is about to make what is expected
to be his last trip to Asia before he leaves office. Human rights activists have been calling on Mr
Bush to boycott the Beijing Olympics but instead he is about to become the first US President to
attend an Olympic games outside America.

But he says he will raise human rights concerns during his meeting with China's President. And he
is also planning to visit Thailand and South Korea, where he will discuss the North Korea nuclear
issue.

Washington correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: George W. Bush will make history as the first American President to attend an Olympic
Games held outside the United States. Apart from the Opening Ceremony, he'll go to a basketball
game between the US and China and he's confessed he wants to ride his mountain bike on the Olympic
course.

President Bush will be treading a delicate diplomatic tightrope in China. He's rejected repeated
calls by activists to boycott the games over China's human rights record. But he says he'll raise
human rights issues when he speaks with China's President Hu Jintao.

Walter Lohmann is the director of the Asian studies centre at the Heritage Foundation in
Washington. He thinks the President has been too deferential towards China.

WALTER LOHMANN: I think he was too hasty in confirming his plans to go especially amidst the
terrible situation in Tibet in March. I think he was too hasty in reassuring the Chinese. I think
he could have used it with better leverage. Now that that time is going and there's really no way
to use it as leverage at this point, I think he ought to then have considered finding something
else to do.

I mean he wouldn't have to be insulting about it. Something comes up, you have to go to Iraq or he
has to do something else and he's not able to be there for the Opening Ceremony and not boycotting
the Olympics but he's not there celebrating the Chinese rise at a time when their taking a turn
really for the worse in terms of political rights in their country.

KIM LANDERS: In Thailand the President will deliver a speech about US relations with Asia. While in
South Korea he's expected to tackle thorny trade issues and the international efforts to convince
North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Kenneth Lieberthal is a professor of political science and a China specialist at the University of
Michigan. He says the President's ninth trip to Asia doesn't necessarily mean he's leaving the US
on better terms in the region.

KENNETH LIEBERTHAL: There's a widespread perception that this is a man who's visited the region
occasionally but has never listened to the region seriously. That when it comes to the region his
focus has been much to much on his global agenda, especially on terrorism and much too little on
regional issues that are of greater concern to the people that he's talking to out there.

So I think in South-East Asia the marks would be fairly low. In places like Malaysia and Indonesia
that have large Muslim populations, where President Bush's policy's in Iraq and the surrounding
area have been enormously unpopular.

KIM LANDERS: And Professor Lieberthal is critical of the Bush administration's record on North
Korea.

KENNETH LIEBERTHAL: He came into office with the situation in reasonably good shape. North Korean
nuclear program highly contained. He then pretty much unilaterally walked away from that situation
until he dug himself into a big hole, he's now claiming credit for at least slowing down the
process of digging. I don't think that's something he deserves a lot of credit for.

Within the last 2 years or so he has turned around and really worked hard with other members of his
Six Party talks to bring the North Korean nuclear program under control and to do so, not simply by
demanding a conclusion to the program but getting into the hard negotiations. But he wouldn't have
been there in the first place if it had not been for the extraordinary ill advised policies he
adopted in the first several years of his administration.

KIM LANDERS: President George W. Bush says his Administration's policies have produced better
relations with everyone in the region.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.