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Britain revokes wedding invite for Syria envoy
LONDON (AP) - Global politics trumped ceremonial protocol Thursday, as Britain revoked a royal wedding invitation to the Syrian ambassador because of violent government attacks on protesters there.
More than 450 people have been killed since mid-March in the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime, with 120 dead over the weekend.
The government said ambassadors from all countries with which Britain has “normal diplomatic relations” had been invited to the wedding _ some 185 in all _ and that an invitation did not condone regimes’ behavior.
But the Foreign Office said Thursday that “in the light of this week’s attacks against civilians by the Syrian security forces, which we have condemned, the foreign secretary has decided that the presence of the Syrian ambassador at the royal wedding would be unacceptable and that he should not attend.”
It said Buckingham Palace shared that view.
Khiyami said he was not surprised by the decision, which he attributed to “the effect of media on government decisions.”
Other diplomatic omissions from the guest list include the ambassadors of Libya _ where Britain is involved in NATO action against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime _ and Malawi, whose envoy was expelled from London this week in a tit-for-tat diplomatic feud.
Among the royal wedding invitees criticized by rights activists are Swaziland’s absolute monarch, King Mswati III; the ambassador of President Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe; and Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia.
Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, declined a wedding invitation, saying he did not want the Gulf nation’s unrest to tarnish the celebration. Bahrain’s rulers have imposed martial law and are backed by a Saudi-led military force to try to quell an uprising that began in February.
Commentators also noted the omission of Blair and Brown. The two Labour ex-premiers were not invited to the wedding, while their Conservative counterparts John Major and Margaret Thatcher were. Thatcher declined due to poor health.
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