China has announced that Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir will visit China at the end of this month.
The Sudanese leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges and on Thursday he canceled a planned visit to Malaysia following protests from human rights groups
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir will make an official visit to China on June 27. Hong says during his visit, Bashir will meet with President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders.
He said China and Sudan have what he described as a traditional friendship, and have maintained frequent mutual visits, especially in recent years.
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan’s western Darfur region. However Bashir has traveled abroad before without arrest.
In Beijing Thursday, the Chinese spokesman said trade volume with Sudan has increased to the point that it is now China’s third largest trading partner in Africa.
China has extensive oil cooperation with Sudan, which is seen by many Western nations as a pariah state. Economic cooperation between the two countries also includes irrigation works, power generation, telecommunications and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Hong said China would like to play a positive role in encouraging peace and reconciliation in Sudan.
He mentioned Sudan’s North-South peace process and the Darfur issue specifically. He said China would like to see the implementation of a comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan, as well as peace and stability in the region.
The news of Bashir’s visit to Beijing comes after Malaysia said President Bashir will not be attending a three-day economic forum that starts on Sunday. This week human rights groups pressured Malaysia to rescind his invitation or arrest him when he was in the Southeast Asian nation.
Malaysian authorities told state TV that Bashir will not attend the conference because of other pressing engagements.