WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States said it has rescinded invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 parties at US embassies, following the violent suppression of protests in Iran.
"Unfortunately, circumstances have changed, and participation by Iranian diplomats would not be appropriate in light of the unjust actions that the president and I have condemned," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a cable to US diplomatic mission abroad.
Early this month, before Iran's disputed June 12 presidential elections, Clinton had sent US diplomats instructions to invite Iranians to the Independence Day celebrations in a bit of "hot dog" diplomacy aimed at engaging Tehran.
But the administration has been heavily criticized for not acting decisively enough in condemning the Iranian regime in the wake of a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests.
The State Department said the new cable sent out under Clinton's name directed the diplomatic missions "to rescind all invitations that have been extended to Iranian diplomats for July 4th events."
"For invitations which have been extended, posts should make clear that Iranian participation is no longer appropriate in the current circumstances. For invitations which have not been extended, no further action is needed," it said.
Earlier, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had said invitations to the July 4 parties would no longer be extended, but not that those already issued had been rescinded.
"July fourth allows us to celebrate the freedom and the liberty we enjoy -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble peacefully. Freedom of the press," Gibbs said.
"I don't think it's surprising that nobody's signed up to come."
On Monday, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly had said there was no thought of rescinding the invitations to Iranian diplomats.
"We have made a strategic decision to engage on a number of fronts with Iran," Kelly said. "We tried many years of isolation, and we're pursuing a different path now."
Obama issued his strongest statements yet on Iran on Tuesday, condemning the violence against protestors following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection.
He also for the first time suggested that his bid to engage the Islamic republic over its nuclear program could be heavily impacted by how the crisis plays out.
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