The International Criminal Court called on the United States on Wednesday to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir if he travels to next week's U.N. General Assembly in New York.
The request comes after Sudan said on Tuesday it had applied for a U.S. visa for Bashir, who is sought by the court on suspicion of masterminding war crimes in Darfur.
Washington said it had received the application and called the request “deplorable”. However, the United States is not a member of the Hague-based ICC so would not be legally bound to cooperate.
Nonetheless, Washington has led calls for Bashir to face international justice over the bloodshed in the now decade-old conflict in the western region of Darfur and has transferred suspects to the ICC before.
The world's permanent war crimes court “invited the competent U.S. authorities to arrest Omar al-Bashir and surrender him to the court, in the event he enters their territory”.
The ICC said it had reminded Washington of two outstanding warrants for Bashir's arrest dating from 2009 and 2010 for alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Sudan dismisses the ICC charges, says reports of mass killings in Darfur have been exaggerated, and refuses to recognize the court which it says is part of a Western plot against it.