RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Monday, March 30, 2009

Doha summit to back Bashir

DOHA: An Arab summit in Qatar today is expected to back Sudan over an international arrest warrant for the Sudanese president and try to heal a deep rift between Arab states over how to deal with Iran.

President Omar Bashir arrived in Qatar yesterday, after visits to Egypt, Eritrea and Libya in the weeks since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the warrant for his arrest and accused him of masterminding war crimes in Darfur.

Qatar, which hosts a key US military base, said last week it had faced unspecified pressure not to receive Bashir but it repeated an invitation for him to attend.

Bashir’s presence poses a challenge for the summit of the 22-member Arab League, but it is expected to voice support for him.

In the Sudanese capital Khartoum, an official played down any risk of Bashir being apprehended during the trip. “There is no power on earth that will intercept the president when he travels. If he flew to France maybe they would try to apprehend him there, but none of them is going to come all this way to apprehend him,” said Ali Youssef Ahmed, head of protocol at Sudan’s Foreign Ministry.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is leading the Kingdom’s delegation to the summit. The king, who arrived here in the evening, held talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani on the conference’s agenda.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has also flown in to the Qatari capital, will attend the summit despite the presence of Bashir, a UN official said.

“Sudan is a member of the United Nations while the International Criminal Court is an independent judicial body, which does not prevent the United Nations from dealing with Sudan,” the official said.

The Doha meeting had been expected to see Arab League states seeking to close ranks split largely over how to respond to Israel’s 22-day onslaught on Hamas-ruled Gaza, and amid the growing influence of Iran in the region.

Qatari Premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani urged foreign ministers who met ahead of the summit to strive for a unified front, beyond the show of solidarity with Sudan. “We have to live up to our responsibilities and work toward closing ranks,” he said.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is staying away from the summit. Egypt will instead be represented by its legal and parliamentary affairs minister, Mufid Shehab.

Arab foreign ministers on Saturday approved a draft declaration calling for the annulment of the ICC measures against Bashir and urging all Arab states to reject the arrest warrant.

Source : Agencies

No comments: