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Sudan Tribune

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Bashir will lead Sudan’s delegation to Arab League summit in Iraq – report

March 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will travel to Iraq next week to participate in the Arab League summit, a newspaper reported today.

Iraqi counter-terrorist soldiers secure the road leading to the venue for the upcoming Arab Summit which will be held in Baghdad on March 21, 2012. Key routes in Baghdad were locked down as Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq claimed responsibility for a wave of deadly blasts targeting security for a landmark Arab summit next week (AFP)
Iraqi counter-terrorist soldiers secure the road leading to the venue for the upcoming Arab Summit which will be held in Baghdad on March 21, 2012. Key routes in Baghdad were locked down as Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq claimed responsibility for a wave of deadly blasts targeting security for a landmark Arab summit next week (AFP)
The pro-government Akhir Lahza newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that Bashir will be joined by foreign minister Ali Karti, intelligence director Mohamed Atta and minister at the presidency Bakri Hassan Saleh.

The sources also said they expect a meeting between Bashir and Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, which would be the first of its kind between the two leaders, to discuss bilateral ties and regional issues particularly the Syrian crisis.

Several calls made to foreign ministry spokesman Al-Obeid Marwih seeking confirmation were not answered.

Last week, the Kurdistan News Agency (AKnews) quoted an anonymous Iraqi foreign ministry official as saying that he International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) had officially notified Baghdad about its intention to arrest Bashir should he attend the summit.

But later the Iraqi foreign ministry issued a statement in which it strongly denied receiving any such request and emphasized that Bashir’s security is “100% guaranteed”.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two warrants for Bashir, one dating from March 2009 on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes, and one issued in July 2010, on three counts of genocide allegedly committed in Darfur.

Iraq is not signatory to the Rome Statute of the Hague-based court and is therefore not legally obligated to apprehend Bashir. The 2005 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution referring Darfur to the ICC made cooperation for non-state parties optional and not mandatory.

Bashir himself has expressed reluctance to be present at the Baghdad summit citing lack of security there.

“[T]he Iraqi government is [operating from] inside the Green Zone surrounded by concrete walls and this is neither a comfortable situation nor an ideal one” Bashir told the Qatar-based al-Raya newspaper in an interview.

“We support peace in Iraq, we support unity in Iraq, we are worried about Iraq but we are not happy with the situation in Iraq. So far we have not made a decision to participate in the Arab summit. This will be decided by the pertinent [government] bodies in Sudan”, the Sudanese president added.

A wave of deadly blasts struck the Iraqi capital in recent days casting doubt over the country’s ability to host the Arab League summit.

Iraqi security forces have mooted the possibility of imposing a city-wide curfew on the day of the summit when Arab leaders are expected in Baghdad for the first such meeting in the Iraqi capital since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

(ST)