Six countries - including China, Russia, and Iraq - have declined invitations to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo. This could be the first year the prize won't be handed out.
Liu's prize could remain in the hands of the Nobel Committee
Six countries have turned down an invitation for their ambassadors in Oslo to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo next month, the Nobel Institute said on Thursday.
"As of this morning, 36 ambassadors had accepted our invitation, 16 had not replied and six had said 'no'," Nobel Institute director Geir Lundestad said, citing China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Morocco and Iraq as the countries in question.
As every year, the Institute has invited all ambassadors based in the Norwegian capital to attend the December ceremony, and the diplomats had until November 15 to say whether or not they would come.
Lundestad said said countries said 'no'
China's leaders were enraged by the decision to give the 2010 Peace Prize to Liu, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison last December on subversion charges after co-authoring a manifesto calling for political reform in China.
The Chinese embassy in Oslo sent a letter to other countries' missions in the city requesting that they refrain from attending the ceremony.
Despite the warning, most Western countries, including the United States, Britain, France and Germany have said they will attend.
Unique award ceremeony
With Liu in prison and his wife Liu Xia under house arrest and his two brothers not sure of being able to leave China, it appears unlikely that anyone from the laureate's family will be able to come to the Norwegian capital to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Thus, although the prize ceremony will go on as planned, Lundestad said it was likely the prize medal, diploma, and award of 10 million Swedish kronor (1 million euros, $1.36 million) would not be handed out this year.
It would be the first time in the prize's 109-year history that neither the laureate nor a representative will show up to receive the prestigious award.
On the three previous occasions the winner was unable to make it to Oslo, each time a representative attended the ceremony and collected the prize instead.
Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner