Sudanese President in Saudi Arabia for Pilgrimage

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has traveled to Saudi Arabia, in another show of defiance to the international court that is seeking his arrest.

The Sudanese president arrived in the city of Jeddah Wednesday, and went to Islam's holiest city, Mecca, where he performed a minor Muslim pilgrimage, the Omra.

Saudi state media said Mr. Bashir was greeted at the Holy Mosque by senior Saudi officials.  Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is in London for the G-20 summit.

Mr. Bashir's trip to Saudi Arabia came as the new U.S. special envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, heads to Khartoum.

The U.S. State Department said Gration will visit Sudan's war-torn Darfur region as well as southern Sudan and the oil city of Abyei, before heading back to Khartoum for talks with senior government officials.

The visit to Saudi Arabia is Mr. Bashir's fifth visit to a foreign state since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Mr. Bashir flew to Saudi Arabia after attending two summits in Qatar, where leaders of Arab League countries and South American nations formally rejected the warrant for his arrest.

ICC prosecutors accuse Mr. Bashir of orchestrating a campaign of rape, murder and other crimes against civilians in Darfur, where his government has been fighting rebels since 2003.

Mr. Bashir has refused to cooperate with the court, dismissing it as a tool of Western imperialism. 


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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