BEIJING (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Wednesday there were significant human rights problems in Tibet, in a speech delivered to university students here at the start of a four-day trip to China.
"Australia, like most other countries, recognises China sovereignty over Tibet but we also believe it is necessary to recognise there are significant human rights problems in Tibet," Rudd told the Beijing University students.
"The current situation in Tibet is of concern to Australians. We recognise the need for all parties to avoid silence and find a solution through dialogue."
However, Rudd repeated his position that there should be no boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games, as some groups and international leaders have suggested to punish China over its crackdown on the past month of Tibetan unrest.
"I believe the Olympics are important for China's continuing engagement with the world," he said in a speech delivered in Mandarin.
Tibetan exiled leaders say more than 150 people have been killed in the Chinese crackdown on the protests. China says it has killed no-one, and blamed Tibetan "rioters" for the deaths of 20 people.
Rudd is the highest profile Western leader to visit China since the unrest broke out, and similar comments from him in recent weeks and days have drawn an angry response from China.
China has raised its concerns about Rudd's previous comments but he would not back down on his position, an Australian foreign affairs department spokesman said earlier on Wednesday.
"We can confirm that Australian and Chinese officials have discussed the comments and our differences over Tibet, both in Beijing and Canberra," the spokesman told AFP.