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Press Trust Of India
Colombo, December 09, 2010
Amid intense Chinese pressure, Sri Lanka on Thursday decided not attend Friday's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo for jailed Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo. "As of now, our position is not to attend the ceremony," Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters. "We are not the only country that took up that position, there are lots of countries that are not attending the event," he said.

The Minister was responding to questions whether Sri Lanka will attend the Nobel peace prize award ceremony.

Though Rambukwella did not say why Sri Lanka decided to stay away, sources said Colombo was keen to ensure not to hurt the sentiments of China.

China had called for a global boycott of Friday's event and renewed its call today.

China is Sri Lanka's top lender and was a key supplier of small arms during the island's armed conflict with Tamil Tigers rebels that ended in May 2009.

Liu, a writer and academic who has advocated human rights and political reform in China for more than two decades, was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges.

Earlier, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Bandula Jayasekara said that "the government would not accept Norway's invitation to attend the ceremony".

Eighteen other countries including Russia, Cuba, Iraq and Iran have already decided to boycott the event. However, India has decided to attend the event.