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Some nations say they won't attend Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Chinese pressure to boycott Nobel event?
  • The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony will take place Friday
  • The Chinese government is angered that dissident Liu Xiaobo is the honoree
  • Liu is serving an 11-year sentence in China for "inciting subversion of state power"
  • It is not clear how China's stance has affected nations who declined to attend

(CNN) -- Several nations have indicated they will not attend the upcoming Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Norway as China protests the fact that the award honors an imprisoned Chinese dissident.

The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, scheduled for Friday in Oslo, has stirred controversy after the announcement of Liu Xiaobo as this year's recipient.

Liu, a renowned Chinese artist and human rights advocate, received the award even though he is serving an 11-year sentence for "inciting subversion of state power."

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Several nations have said they will not attend the ceremony. The Nobel committee, which said it had sent out 65 invitations to embassies in Oslo, counted 19 countries that had declined so far -- including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran.

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China has responded furiously to the Nobel committee's choice, calling the decision a Western plot to demonize China. Officials have repeatedly warned other countries not to attend the ceremony.

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"European nations are facing these choices now -- do they want to be part of the political game? Or do they want to act responsibly and develop friendly ties with the Chinese government and people?" Cui Tiankai, a vice foreign minister, told journalists last month.

It is unclear, officially, how China's stance has affected nations who have said they are not attending the award ceremony. But some have speculated that some nations are not attending the ceremony in an effort not to offend China or complicate business relationships it has with Beijing.

Russian officials have said they are not going to attend the ceremony because its ambassador has a previous commitment.

An official from the United Nations said the U.N. is not going to attend the ceremony, but said that is not unusual. The U.N. was not formally invited and usually does not attend the ceremony unless someone from the organization wins the award, the official said.

Despite the Nobel committee's announcement that Iraq will not show up at the ceremony, an official said that might not be true.

Labeed Abawi, Iraq's deputy foreign affairs minister, said officials had not yet decided if they would attend the ceremony.

CNN's Richard Roth, Jomana Karadesh, Matthew Chance and Steven Jiang contributed to this report.