Rusutsu, July 9:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend the Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony next month, his office said Wednesday, ending his threat to boycott the event in an apparent attempt to soothe Chinese irritation over French support of Tibet.

Sarkozy was the first world leader to raise the possibility of skipping the festivities to protest China’s violent crackdown in Tibet after riots and protests there in March. A snub would have been a slap in the face to Chinese leadership, eager to use the Games to show off the country’s power and clout.

After keeping the threat alive for months, Sarkozy today reassured Chinese President Hu Jintao that he would attend the August 8 ceremony, his office said. The two men spoke on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit of industrialised powers in Japan.

Since the March unrest, international pressure has built on both China and the Dalai Lama for an easing of tensions over the Himalayan region, which China has governed since the 1950s.

The talks are important to China’s hopes of hosting a flawless Olympics.