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BEIJING - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd used his fluent Chinese on Wednesday to stress his opposition to boycotting the Beijing Olympics while pressing China to address unrest in Tibet through dialogue.
Rudd, a former diplomat who speaks precise, well-toned Mandarin, used a speech before Chinese university students to set the tone for talks with Chinese leaders in coming days.
China has been shaken by unrest in Tibetan areas since monk-led marches turned violent in the regional capital Lhasa on March 14.
Some foreign groups and politicians have seized on Beijing's subsequent security drive to press other governments to boycott at least part of the August 8 to 24 Olympic Games.
Rudd stressed that he disagreed.
"Some have called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics because of recent problems in Tibet," Rudd told students at Peking University on Wednesday. "As I said in London on Sunday, I do not agree.
"I believe the Olympics are important for China's continuing engagement with the world."
But the Australian leader, who has said he wants more candid discussion with China about human rights, also told the students that he had worries about Tibet that he would raise with their country's leaders.
"Australia, like most other countries, recognises China's sovereignty over Tibet. But we also believe it is necessary to recognise there are significant human rights problems in Tibet," he said.
Rudd called for "all parties to avoid violence and find a solution through dialogue," and said he would raise Tibet when he meets China's leaders in the next two days.
Rudd is due to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday, and President Hu Jintao the day after that for talks. - Reuters