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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bashir 'to attend Doha Arab summit'

Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, has accepted an invitation from Qatar to attend the annual Arab summit set to take place in Doha.

The decision was confirmed by Sudan's ministry of foreign affairs as the International Criminal Court (ICC) urged Qatar to co-operate with its arrest warrant against al-Bashir.

The ICC wants al-Bashir arrested on charges of war crimes in the western Sudanese province of Darfur.

Qatar, which is not a signatory to the Rome statute that established the ICC, invited al-Bashir.

The Arab League summit is set to take place on March 30.

Laurence Blairon, the ICC spokeswoman, told AFP: "The court counts on the co-operation of states and therefore of Qatar, but it does not have its own police force."

She said that Qatar may not be a member of the Rome Statute but that it was a member of the United Nations.

"The [UN] Security Council resolution that requires all states to co-operate with the court therefore applies to Qatar," she said.

Suspension calls

Because the ICC cannot try al-Bashir in absentia, it depends on countries to execute their orders.

However, several African and Arab states have already called for the warrant to be suspended.

The ICC charged al-Bashir on March 4 with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity on for his involvement in the Darfur conflict, which the UN estimates has killed between 200,000 and 400,000 people.

The Sudanese government puts the death toll at 10,000.

Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to ever receive an arrest warrant from the ICC.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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