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OSLO (AFP) - Confusion over which countries would attend the peace prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo grew Friday just hours before the event with organisers adding more names to the list.

"Colombia, Serbia, the Philippines and Ukraine, which had been on the 'no' list, will be represented after all," Nobel Institute director Geir Lundestad told AFP.

That means the list of countries who have declined invitations to the ceremony, centred around an empty chair for the absent laureate who remains in a Chinese prison, has shrunk to under 20.

In addition to China, the list of absentees is made up of Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Venezuela, Vietnam and the Palestinian Authoritiy.

However Lundestad's comments did little to resolve the uncertainty, since Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said Friday the country's ambassador to Norway was on a consular mission and could not return in time to join the ceremony.

And while Lundestad said the institute had yet to receive an answer from Sri Lanka, a close ally of China, the government in Colombo announced Thursday it would not send a representative to Oslo.

With the Philippines and Sri Lanka added to the list of no-shows, a total of 19 countries invited to the peace prize ceremony are expected to stay away Friday.

The Palestinian Authority meanwhile officially did a back-flip, deciding at the last minute not to attend, but without providing an explanation, Lundestad said.

As for Argentina, Lundestad said Thursday the country most likely would not be represented, only to tell AFP Friday it would attend the ceremony.

Serbia, which faced a barrage of criticism from the European Union over its initial decision not to attend the event, meanwhile decided at the last minute to send a ombudsman to the ceremony.

China was enraged by the October 8 announcement of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Liu, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion and who it considers a "criminal."

Beijing has threatened "consequences" for countries that show support for the dissident.

 

Last Updated (Friday, 10 December 2010 12:02)

 

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