President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the East Room of the White House on the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. / White House/Pete Souza
Updated 10:32 a.m. Eastern Time
WASHINGTON - George W. Bush has declined an invitation from President Barack Obama to attend an observance at New York's ground zero.
A White House official confirmed that Mr. Bush was invited to join Mr. Obama at Ground Zero tomorrow "but is not able to come - which we of course understand."
Obama plans to visit the site of destroyed World Trade Center towers Thursday in the aftermath of a Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The al Qaeda attack, which killed about 3,000 people, occurred in the early months of Bush's presidency in 2001.
Bush spokesman David Sherzer says the former president appreciated the offer to attend.
"He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight," Sherzer said. "He continues to celebrate with all Americans this important victory in the war on terror."
The White House official told CBS News the invitation to Mr. Bush was communicated "on the staff level." Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush spoke on the phone Sunday night about the killing of bin Laden.