COLOMBO - THE Maldivian government has apologised to a European couple abused as 'swine' and 'infidels' during what was supposed to be a romantic renewal of wedding vows in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The Maldivian ambassador in Geneva conveyed to the couple the government's 'profound and heartfelt apologies,' the Maldivian government said on Saturday.

'Ambassador Iruthisham Adam from the Maldives embassy in Geneva personally telephoned the couple, who asked to remain anonymous, on Friday to extend the government's profound and heartfelt apologies,' a statement said.

A video of the ceremony said to have taken place on October 11, during which the hapless couple were taunted and subjected to insulting and religious-tinged abuse, was posted on YouTube two weeks later. The video has sparked fears for the country's tourism-dependent economy.

The Vilu Reef hotel initially identified the victims as Swiss, but a senior tourism source in the Maldives told AFP they were French. Maldivian authorities declined to confirm their nationality.

'I informed the couple the entire country is deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened,' the president's office quoted the ambassador as saying.

Maldives apologises to couple