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Report on Indian leader's attendance to Olympics 'not a fact'
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A report in the Indian Times on the attendance of Indian leaders to the Beijing Olympic Games "is not a fact and not conducive to Sino-Indian ties," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

"I have time and again explained the procedures of inviting registered VIPs, including heads of state and government, to the Olympic Games," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a press briefing.

A story run by the Indian Times on July 15 said that China invited Indian National Congress Party Chairman Sonia Gandhi to attend the Games, due to open on Aug. 8, instead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, thus showing a cold shoulder to Singh and his government.

China "places high importance" on the strategic partnership between the world's two most populous nations and "pays great attention" to the contacts between leaders of the two countries, Liu said.

He reiterated that a head of state or government should be invited by the Olympic committee of that country, according to the rules of the International Olympic Committee.

"We, as the host, respect the decisions made by the Olympic committees," he said.

"We welcome leaders from all over the world, including India, to attend and participate in relevant events in the Olympic Games in Beijing," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 18, 2008)

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