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Sudanese President Makes High-Profile Trip to Cairo


Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is visiting Egypt on his first high-profile trip abroad, and second to a neighboring country in three days. Mr. Bashir is meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in an apparent attempt to seek reassurances he will not be arrested at an Arab summit in Qatar.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir at the airport in Cairo, in a show of solidarity with the beleaguered Sudanese leader, before holding talks at presidential headquarters, outside the capital.

Al-Bashir's trip to Egypt is his second since a warrant for his arrest was issued on March 4 by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Darfur. Egypt is not a signatory of the court's founding charter, and is not obligated to arrest him.

The 22-member Arab League also says it will not implement the international arrest warrant, while Qatar, which is hosting an Arab summit next week, has repeated a pledge not to arrest him even though it is a signatory to the court charter.

Qatar Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber al-Thani says Qatar is coming under "increasing pressure" not to welcome him.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters Egypt and Sudan are cooperating to find a solution to the crisis.

He says that there is a joint Egyptian, Arab and African position not to accept the way the international court is dealing with the case of the Sudanese president. He adds that discussions are also centered around the situation in Darfur, how to end that conflict and ways to guarantee the humanitarian situation. Egypt, he says, has pledged to give Sudan humanitarian assistance.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor Kuol says Sudan's government is contemplating what to do about President Bashir's upcoming trip to Qatar.

"President Bashir's visit to Qatar differs substantially from visits to Egypt or Eritrea, and, therefore, the Sudanese government is studying the situation and will make its decision [on whether he should attend], later," he said. "Sudan will try government officials on charges of crimes related to the Darfur crisis in its own courts. A special Sudanese prosecutor has been appointed for Darfur."

President Al-Bashir sparked further international outrage when he recently expelled 13 international aid agencies, adding to fears of a worsening spiral of violence and further humanitarian tragedy in Darfur.

He has been charged with war crimes related to a counter-insurgency against Darfur rebels, punctuated by rapes, killings and other atrocities against civilians.

Sudan's Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun, who is also accused of war crimes in Darfur, told al-Arabiya TV the International Criminal Court is a "European Guantanamo ... that will surely convict us, because the United States and Europe are trying to impose their neo-colonial agendas on us."

He also warned the United States "not to meddle in Sudan's internal affairs," claiming that Washington should "not play world policeman after what it has done in Iraq."

He went on to deny charges of war crimes, claiming that the United Nations has "vastly exaggerated casualty figures for Darfur in 2008."

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