TAOISEACH Brian Cowen last night turned his attentions to the problem of world hunger while defending his failure to bring up human rights abuses with his Chinese hosts.
Mr Cowen was set to address the EU-Asia summit in Beijing today where he will push the Irish Government’s taskforce plan to tackle poverty.
The Taoiseach wants the 43-nation body to take the lead in ensuring the 900 million people who go to bed hungry each night are lifted out of despair.
However, Mr Cowen denied he had “copped-out” on the human rights front by not raising the emotive matter when he met the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao ahead of the summit.
“I obtained a meeting in relation to the subject- matter that was on the meeting and you stick to the agenda that’s there. These issues are dealt with at official level by our ambassadors, by our foreign affairs department all the time, in respect of any specific issues that come up.
“There was no specific reference to any specific case. What I mentioned was, of course, the economic development which was the agenda we were talking about, and the financial crisis.
“I noted that the very great success that China has had economically has lifted 500 million people out of poverty and by that effort has also improved human rights for those people. And also to say that we would encourage them to continue along that path and to ensure that it’s only through dialogue that we can advance these issues,” he said.
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