WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama administration has decided to rescind invitations to Iranian diplomats for July Fourth celebrations overseas due to violent crackdowns against protesters in Iran, the White House said Wednesday.
"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," White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. "Given the events of the past many days, those invitations will no longer be extended."
The administration had decided to invite Iranians to the celebrations at overseas posts as part of the president's policy of engaging the Iranian regime.
Late last month the State Department sent a cable to its embassies and consulates worldwide telling them they could invite Iranian representative to their July Fourth celebrations.
But in a fresh cable sent to all embassies and consulates Wednesday evening, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered posts "to rescind all invitations that have been extended to Iranian diplomats for July 4 events.
"Unfortunately the circumstances have changed and participation by Iranian diplomats would not be appropriate in light of the Iranian government's continued violent and unjust actions against its own people," said the cable, obtained by CNN.
"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."
A senior administration official told CNN that Clinton made the decision, and then informed President Barack Obama.
Iran and the United States do not have diplomatic relations and do not have embassies in each other's capitals. However, there are numerous capitals around the world where both the United States and Iran have embassies.
Countries with whom the United States does not have diplomatic relations do not usually receive invitations to the July Fourth events.