Wait for facts on Tibet - Peters

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has come out on the side of China over Tibet and says not enough facts are known to make a judgment over who is to blame for turmoil there.

Speaking at a news conference in Auckland with Australian counterpart Stephen Smith, he discouraged any form of boycott, either of the whole Olympic Games or its opening ceremony.

Mr Peters took a different view from Prime Minister Helen Clark. Last week she told Parliament the Government was concerned over events in Tibet and called for restraint.

Mr Peters said people should not "rush to judgment".

"What's not fully known is how much of the events originated in the form of a riot and whether there was personal and physical destruction as the motivation. I prefer to wait and find out the facts."

Asked if he felt the exiled Dalai Lama was not an innocent in the affair, Mr Peters refused to say. "He wasn't anywhere near the event personally."


Last week French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called for athletes to boycott the Olympic opening ceremony in protest at Tibet events.

Mr Peters did not agree.

"The idea of boycotting the Olympics is not the Government's position in terms of the opening ceremony," he said.

"The athletes are all signed up to a certain form of behaviour conducive to the Olympics and its Olympic spirit and let's not start telling the young people of this world to start boycotting the one chance they have in four years, sometimes in their lifetime, on an issue where it is still not known what exactly happened in Tibet recently."

The Olympic torch will travel through Australia. Mr Smith said the government believed restraint was required in Tibet.

"I don't believe there should be a boycott of the Olympics."

The torch should be carried around the world in the spirit of the Olympics and any demonstrations should be civil and dignified.

"The Olympics is potentially a great uplifting experience for the globe and people should proceed accordingly," Mr Smith said.



Fairfax Media