French delegation gets Bove into WTO talks
HONG KONG, Dec 12 (AFP) - French militant farmer José Bové has been allowed into Hong Kong on the eve of World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial talks after being briefly detained at the airport, French officials said Monday.
“We asked the consul general to intervene… so that José Bové could be present in Hong Kong,” French junior minister for foreign trade Christine Lagarde told a press conference, thanking the Hong Kong authorities.
Lagarde’s chief of staff noted that Bové, who shot to prominence in 1999 after he helped demolish a partly built McDonald’s fast food restaurant in southern France, had been asked to “strictly respect public order”.
Bové, who participates in anti-globalization protests worldwide and has served jail time in France for trashing genetically modified (GM) crops, earlier told AFP he had been barred entry to the former British colony.
“Upon my arrival in Hong Kong, they seized my passport and took me to a detention center,” Bove told AFP.
“I’m being prevented in a very formal way from participating in the summit,” added the sheep farmer, who was barred from travelling to the WTO summit in Mexico in 2003.
“The Hong Kong authorities are preventing any real debate, any debate that runs contrary to the WTO.”
Later, Bové told AFP that immigration authorities had briefly detained him because they were unaware that he was formally accredited to the WTO talks.
He promised to campaign “peacefully”, but told AFP: “That doesn’t mean we’re going to remain silent.”
Trade ministers from the 149 WTO member states were converging in Hong Kong ahead of the start on Tuesday of six day of talks aimed at reaching a deal on reducing and eventually eliminating barriers to global trade.
WTO Director General Pascal Lamy told France Inter radio earlier that he saw “no particular reason for José Bové not to be able to join his friends from other non-governmental organizations”.
Subject: French news