China invokes Olympics in urging South Ossetia ceasefire

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese state media urged a ceasefire between Russia and Georgia on Saturday, invoking the “sacred” opening of the Beijing Olympics to call for both sides to stop fighting over South Ossetia.

China’s grand opening for the Games on Friday was overshadowed by military confrontation between Russia and Georgia over the disputed breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Beijing’s official Xinhua news agency was quick to hold up the spirit of the Beijing Olympic Games in calling for the two European countries to stop fighting.

“The eighth of August 2008 was a sacred day,” said the commentary. “With the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, the world has entered an Olympic period....During these special days, the outbreak of armed clashes in South Ossetia is something the world’s people do not wish to see.”

Invoking the Olympic spirit, the commentary called for a ceasefire.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also issued an appeal calling on all warring nations to honor a traditional truce during the Games.

“A ceasefire can give people the chance to reflect on the massive carnage brought by war,” the Xinhua commentary said. “We hope the various parties in the South Ossetia dispute exercise calm and restraint and solve their differences through negotiations and not force.”

Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Nick Macfie