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Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux split

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux have split up less than three years after getting married.

The Hollywood stars said they had separated at the end of last year.

They decided to make the announcement on Thursday to halt speculation about the future of their marriage.

In a joint statement the pair said they would continue their "cherished friendship" and would maintain "the deep respect and love" they have for each other.

Aniston was seen celebrating her 49th birthday on Sunday with pals including her Friends co-star Courtney Cox, rather than with Theroux.

There had been reports Aniston was spending most of her time in Los Angeles while Theroux was in New York.

An apparent last-ditch attempt to save their marriage with a Mexico holiday in January was also fuelling rumours.

In the statement they said they were splitting out of a "mutual and lovingly" made decision by both of them.

"In an effort to reduce any further speculation, we have decided to announce our separation," they said.

"We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship.

"Normally we would do this privately, but given that the gossip industry cannot resist an opportunity to speculate and invent, we wanted to convey the truth directly."

Aniston and Theroux married in August 2015 after becoming engaged three years before.

They do not have any children.

Aniston, who was married to Brad Pitt, recently criticised gossip culture, telling Marie Claire: "My marital status has been shamed, my divorce status was shamed, my lack of a mate had been shamed, my nipples have been shamed.

"It's like, why are we only looking at women through this particular lens of picking us apart? Why are we listening to it?

"I just thought: 'I have worked too hard in this life and this career to be whittled down to a sad, childless human.'"

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