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Indonesia Defends Allowing Visit of Sudanese Leader

  • Associated Press

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, left, greets his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir upon his arrival for the extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit on Palestinian issues in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, March 7, 2016.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, left, greets his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir upon his arrival for the extraordinary Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit on Palestinian issues in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, March 7, 2016.

Indonesia defended on Monday its decision to allow Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, a suspected war criminal, into the country for a summit of Muslim nations.

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 because of suspected involvement in crimes against humanity, specific war crimes and genocide. The charges stem from reported atrocities in the conflict in Darfur.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said Indonesia is not an ICC member state and has no legal mechanism or obligation to arrest al-Bashir.

“It is a matter between him and the ICC, not the question of Indonesia,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said it was “concerned” by al-Bashir's travel to Indonesia for a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Like Indonesia, the U.S. is not a party to the Rome Statute treaty that established the ICC.

The embassy said in a statement that the U.S. strongly supports the ICC's efforts to hold accountable those responsible for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Indonesia has promised to ratify the Rome Statute but there is continuing political opposition, partly because past atrocities by the Indonesian military might lead to ICC cases.

Last year, al-Bashir reportedly canceled a trip to an Asia-Africa conference in Jakarta after protests by rights groups.

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