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Bush Rejects Cease-Fire During Salt Lake Winter Games

TIMES STAFF WRITER

President Bush said no Tuesday to an International Olympic Committee request for a cease-fire in Afghanistan under a so-called “Olympic Truce” during the Salt Lake City Winter Games.

Instead, IOC President Jacques Rogge said after a meeting at the White House, Bush said the United States would propose a truce-related resolution Dec. 11 to the United Nations general assembly.

The final language of the resolution is undetermined, but a working version emphasizes “safe passage” to the Games for the world’s athletes, IOC Director General Francois Carrard said Tuesday.

“The word ‘truce’ doesn’t enter into it,” national security spokesman Sean McCormack said.

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Secretary of State Colin Powell had said earlier this month that U.S. military action in Afghanistan would continue during the Salt Lake Olympics, which begin Feb. 8. Bush has said he hopes to attend the opening ceremony.

Carrard said Bush “confirmed the total commitment and support of the U.S. administration to the [Salt Lake] Games and all the security commitments and measures.”

Two weeks ago, Bush allocated another $10 million in federal funds to help protect the Salt Lake Games from potential attack. A total of $34.5 million in federal aid has been added to the $200-million Olympic security budget since Sept. 11.

Bush also inquired about security arrangements for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens and expressed “very strong support” for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, Carrard said.

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Before the session at the White House, Rogge told a National Press Club audience that the Salt Lake Games would see a full complement of nations and athletes, even though some competitors have expressed concerns since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

“There is absolutely not a single national Olympic committee that will defect, and all the athletes will be present,” Rogge said.

Some have even called for the Salt Lake Games to be postponed or canceled.

Rogge said, “We have, of course, as reasonable people, weighed all the options. But at no time have we considered canceling the Games, because we were reassured totally by the level of security.”

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In addition, he said the IOC would “love for Afghanistan athletes to participate” in the Salt Lake Games. But, he observed, “You need a stable government ... a stable political situation in the country,” and, “We’re not there yet.”

The IOC suspended Afghanistan’s Olympic committee from its membership rolls two years ago because the Taliban government would not allow female athletes to compete; 199 other nations belong to the Olympic movement, leaving Afghanistan alone in its suspension.

Meantime, in a separate but related Oval Office meeting earlier Tuesday afternoon with a U.S. Olympic delegation, Bush was named honorary captain of the U.S. team in Salt Lake. Bush has said he hopes to attend the Feb. 8 opening ceremony.

On hand were U.S. Olympic Committee President Sandy Baldwin; newly elected USOC Chief Executive Lloyd Ward; Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee; Maurice Greene, winner of the men’s 100-meter dash at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games; and a U.S. women’s bobsled duo, Jen Davidson and Jean Racine.

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