Britain withdraws Syria envoy's royal wedding invitation
Britain on Thursday withdrew the Syrian ambassador's invitation to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, saying the regime's crackdown on protesters made his presence "unacceptable".
Foreign Secretary William Hague made the decision and the royal family agreed that Sami Khiyami should not attend Friday's ceremony, the Foreign Office said in a statement, following criticism from rights groups.
"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," the statement said.
The Foreign Office defended the initial invitation, saying the Syrian envoy had been invited alongside all countries with which Britain has normal diplomatic relations and which have ambassadors in London.
"An invitation does not mean endorsement or approval of the behaviour of any government, simply that we have normal diplomatic relations with that country," it said.
Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William's grandmother, said it agreed with the decision.
"Buckingham Palace shares the view of the Foreign Office that it is not considered appropriate for the Syrian ambassador to attend the wedding," a palace spokeswoman told AFP.
Rights groups say at least 453 civilians have been killed in Syria since protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad first erupted in mid-March.
© 2011 AFP