New Delhi, Mar 25 : China today urged countries on the route of the Olympic torch to ensure its smooth progress; a day after a protest marred the flame's lighting.
It further termed any attempts to disrupt the Olympic torch relay as shameful.
"Any act to disrupt the Olympic torch relay is shameful and unpopular," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
"We also believe that competent authorities in countries through which the torch relay will pass have the obligation to ensure a smooth relay," he added.
Qin had been asked to respond to a protest at the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece and the likelihood of further demonstrations along the relay route.
Three men from a media rights group breached tight security around Olympia on Monday to unfurl a banner demanding a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in August because of Chinese human rights violations.
The incident, aired live to TV audiences around the world -- but not to the Chinese -- came as a huge embarrassment to Beijing, already in the global spotlight for the past 10 days over deadly unrest in Tibet.
Chinese state television, which broadcast the ceremony on a delay, cut away as the protesters appeared during a speech by China's top Olympic official.
Story first published: Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 21:19 [IST]
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