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Sudanese President Travels to Libya in New Show of Defiance


Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is visiting Libya in a new show of defiance to an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court on charges of Darfur war crimes.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al Bashir embraced Libya's Colonel Muammar al-Gadhafi and thanked him for his warm welcome, as both leaders met at the Colonel's private tent in his home town of Sirte, 600 kilometers east of the capital, Tripoli.

President al-Bashir's trip to Ethiopia and Libya was his third visit abroad since a warrant was issued for his arrest on March 4 by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Darfur.

Colonel Gadhafi is currently president of the African Union and he recently told U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon the warrant against Mr. Bashir constituted a "grave precedent against the independence of less powerful states, their sovereignty and their political choices."

The Libyan leader has also warned that the ICC is "selective" in meting out justice, and that it is "employing a policy of double standards in targeting African and third-world states."

Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha thanked Ethiopia and Libya for welcoming President al-Bashir and said Sudan was capable of handling the humanitarian situation in Darfur on its own.

He says Sudan thanks the Ethiopian people for standing up against the unjust decision by the international criminal court, as well as its readiness to cooperate with Sudan in surmounting this tribulation.

International Criminal Court President Louis Mourino O'Campo told al -Jazeera TV President Bashir's recent travels demonstrate that he is "desperate" and is "only making short trips."

The head of the Beirut-based Carnegie Center for Peace in the Middle East, Paul Salem, says Arab states like Libya and Egypt are trying to demonstrate they are independent of the West by striking a middle-ground with respect to President Bashir.

"I think the position of providing a middle ground for President Bashir, not denying the ICC decision, but asking for it to be postponed, and giving Bashir some breathing space is a way for the regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia to indicate that they do have a position independent from the West," he said. "Of course, the visit to Libya, I mean everything with Libya is always rather unique and peculiar, but that might be Libya-specific, and I am sure that Gadhafi would have welcomed Bashir. Gadhafi likes to defy the international order in general, although he has made his peace with it, but he always likes to be the maverick."

The 22-member Arab League says it will not implement the international arrest warrant, against Mr. Bashir, 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.

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