In an Olympic medley of sports and politics, US President George W. Bush called Sunday for more religious freedom in China, sought an end to an escalating conflict between Russia and Georgia and cheered US athletes as they dribbled and swam for gold.
The president's meetings with Hu and other Chinese officials at the Zhongnanhai government compound came as Bush monitored deadly clashes between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia, a staunch US ally that Bush wants to see join NATO. The conflict erupted Friday when Georgian troops moved to retake control of South Ossetia, a region bordering Russia that gained de facto independence in 1992.
Bush expressed concern that attacks were occurring in regions of Georgia far from the zone of conflict in South Ossetia. A senior official in Washington said Russia's use of strategic bombers and ballistic missiles against Georgia was "disproportionate to whatever threat Russia had been citing." The administration official briefed reporters Saturday on condition his name not be used because of the sensitive nature of the situation.
Despite his official duties, Bush has made clear his main role at the Olympics was as a fan, and Sunday was a US sports fan's dream.