Windsor Star

Nobel no-shows pressured by China

Invites declined to prize ceremony

- WALTER GIBBS

OSLO Six countries declined invitation­s to the Dec. 10 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo after an unpreceden­ted campaign by China to sabotage attendance, the Norwegian Nobel Committee told Reuters.

The six nations that declined are Russia, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Morocco, Iraq and China itself. They gave no reason for declining, said Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the accolade.

China has sent letters to foreign ministries and embassies urging diplomats to stay away from the ceremony in Oslo and warning of “conse- quences” for those who support the pro-democracy activist.

Lundestad said China had mounted a campaign to persuade diplomats to avoid the awards ceremony, and had returned all mail sent by the committee unopened.

“I don’t know of any example where a country has so actively and directly tried to have ambassador­s stay away from a Nobel ceremony,” he said.

Another 16 countries had not replied to the invitation by the committee’s extended deadline of Thursday morning, but might still reply later and attend, Lundestad said on Thursday.

“China is not the only factor in this,” Lundestad added. “There are always some ambassador­s that don’t come for some reason, and they don’t have to say why.”

The Nobel Committee sent invitation­s to 58 countries with embassies in Norway, and 36 have accepted.

According to an Asian diplomat, the Vietnamese envoy to Norway will be among the other no-shows. Hanoi’s diplomat will not come because the dissident Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do was nominated for the 2010 prize.

Even with some diplomatic noshows, Lundestad said, he expected 1,000 or so admirers of Liu Xiaobo to attend the ceremony.

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