US President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration next week will be a landmark event in world history, but do not look for any foreign leaders in the crowds expected to throng the ceremony. They are not invited.
The State Department last week informed all foreign embassies in Washington that, in keeping with past practice, their ambassadors and spouses can come to the event to represent their countries. Officials from their capitals, however, must stay home.
"These invitations are only for the chiefs of diplomatic missions and their spouses and are not transferable," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote in a diplomatic note sent to the embassies on Jan. 6.
An earlier note, sent by Rice to the embassies on Nov. 24, says the exclusion of foreign leaders and top government officials is customary for US presidential inaugurations. "As in the past, foreign delegations will not be invited to Washington for this occasion," it said.