U.S. President George W. Bush on Sunday worshipped at a Beijing church in a bid to press for wider religious freedom in China and met the country’s Communist leaders for what Bush promised would be “candid” discussions.
Bush, who has insisted sports and politics do not mix, spent the day blending high-level diplomacy with some Olympic fun — watching a gold medal win by American swimmer Michael Phelps and seeing Chinese President Hu Jintao for private talks.
“I enjoy our conversations … our relationship is constructive and it’s important and also very candid,” Bush said as he sat down with Hu after earlier attending a prayer service at a Communist government-sanctioned church.
“I had a very uplifting experience going to a church,” he said and thanked Hu for helping to arrange the visit.
“I feel very strongly about religion,” Bush added. He has repeatedly said he uses private talks with Hu to discuss frankly human rights as well as freedom of speech and religion in China.