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Hu meets 11 foreign leaders
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When President Hu Jintao held separate meetings with 11 foreign leaders at the Great Hall of the People yesterday, it foreshadowed a slew of talks with the unprecedented gathering of world leaders in Beijing that will take place during the Games.

"On behalf of the Chinese government and people, I welcome you to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics and thank your country for its support of the Games," President Hu told his Laotian counterpart Choummaly Saygnasone, the first guest of his intensive diplomatic schedule.

The Foreign Ministry had earlier confirmed more than 80 foreign heads of state or governments will attend the Games - a number that will set a new Olympic record.

From yesterday to next Monday, the Chinese leadership is scheduled to have more than 70 bilateral or multilateral meetings with visiting leaders, including US President George W. Bush, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The Great Hall of the People has been newly decorated, and the restrooms bear Chinese, English and French signage.

President Hu greeted every guest outside the door of Fujian Hall yesterday and had a 20-minute talk with every leader.

In addition to conventional meetings, the Chinese leadership will treat many distinguished guests to lavish banquets.

Some meetings will be held far from traditional venues, such as the Great Hall and the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

East Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta told Hu yesterday he had enjoyed the warmth of his Chinese hosts' hospitality since he arrived in Beijing.

China has shown an excellent aptitude for organization with the Beijing Games, he added.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said: "Seven years ago, not many people believed that China would hold one of the most marvelous Games in history, but China did it."

Beijing's success will encourage Brazil in its bid to compete with Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid to host the 2016 Games, he said.

Other leaders Hu met yesterday included Republic of Serbia President Boris Tadic, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Republic of Montenegro President Filip Vujanovic, Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet and the DPRK's top legislator Kim Yong-nam.

Hu also had dinner with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Beijing Olympics torch relay's first torchbearer.

(China Daily August 8, 2008)

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