WASHINGTON (AFP) – Ex-president George W. Bush, whose presidency was shaped by the September 11 strikes, declined an invitation to join his successor Barack Obama in New York, officials said Tuesday.

Obama is scheduled to visit Ground Zero, the simply named site of the felled World Trade Center in New York on Thursday, just days after a weekend US special forces raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan that killed the Al-Qaeda leader and planner of the attacks.

Though Bush was asked to come to New York for the events, he decided against it, his spokesman said.

"President Bush will not be in attendance on Thursday. He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight," said spokesman David Sherzer. "He continues to celebrate with all Americans this important victory in the war on terror."

A White House official said on condition of anonymity that Obama would meet families of those killed on 9/11 when Al-Qaeda flew hijacked airliners into the city's famed twin towers.