First Published: 2017-05-17

Saudi invites Sudan leader to Trump summit
Bashir, who is wanted for alleged war crimes, has been invited to summit with US President, Arab and Muslim leaders.
Middle East Online

Bashir has evaded arrest since his indictment by the International Criminal Court in 2009 for alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity

RIYADH Saudi Arabia has invited Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for alleged war crimes, to a summit with US President Donald Trump and Arab and Muslim leaders, a Saudi official said Wednesday.

"He (Bashir) is invited," the official noted without saying whether the Sudanese leader would attend the top-level talks on Sunday.

Trump is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, from Saturday on his first foreign trip since taking office in January.

He will address the summit on his "hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam," the White House said Tuesday.

- War crimes and genocide -

Khartoum's top diplomat confirmed Wednesday that Bashir, who has been charged with war crimes and genocide, will attend the same summit in Saudi Arabia as the US president.

"I can confirm President Bashir will go ... to Saudi Arabia," Sudan's foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters in Geneva. "We look forward (to) normalisation of our relations with the US."

Asked if Bashir expected to shake hands with the US president, Ghandour said it was impossible to predict, but added that "a handshake doesn't mean a lot if relations are not (good)".

Bashir has evaded arrest since his indictment by the International Criminal Court in 2009 for alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the conflict in Darfur that has killed tens of thousands.

He denies the charges.

Khartoum has said it is keen to improve relations with Washington under Trump.

"Sudan renews its commitment to continue a bilateral dialogue in order to reach full and normal relations between the two countries in the interests of their peoples," its foreign ministry said on March 7.

That was despite Sudan's inclusion on an executive order signed by Trump in March to temporarily close US borders to nationals from six Muslim-majority countries.

The travel ban has since been blocked by a US judge.

After signing of the order, however, Sudan voiced "deep regret and discontent" over the move.

- 'Partner in fighting terror' -

It condemned the ban, saying it came despite Khartoum engaging in talks with Washington on fighting terrorism.

"These negotiations confirmed that Sudan plays a big role as a partner in fighting terrorism that endangers people of both countries and of the world," the foreign ministry said at the time.

Before leaving office, president Barack Obama eased decades-old US sanctions against Sudan, but kept Khartoum on the blacklist.

Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 and has been subject to a US trade embargo since 1997 over its alleged support for Islamist groups.

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was based in Khartoum from 1992 to 1996.

Washington believes Khartoum's terror ties have ebbed, but has kept sanctions in place because of the scorched-earth tactics it has used against ethnic minority rebels in Darfur.

An end to fighting in Sudan's hotspots -- Blue Nile and South Kordofan states as well as the Darfur region -- had been set as a precondition for sanctions being lifted.

According to the United Nations, 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since the Darfur conflict erupted in 2003.

South Africa came under fire for failing to arrest Bashir in 2015 when he attended an African Union summit in Johannesburg.

It insisted he had "head of state immunity" after letting him slip out of the country under shadowy circumstances.

 

Regional tensions rise in Kurds’ independence vote

Erdogan threatens Iraqi Kurds with border closure, oil block

US-led strikes killed 84 civilians near Syria's Raqa

Iran shuts border with Iraqi Kurdistan

Dubai set to become first city with flying taxis

Iraq Kurds start voting in historic independence referendum

UAE announces plans for region’s first nuclear reactor

Putin to visit Erdogan this week for Syria, Iraq talks

Sudan vows to step up efforts to improve US ties

Turkey to launch intervention into Syria — and maybe into Iraq

Egyptian ‘world’s heaviest woman’ dies in Abu Dhabi

Palestinian unity government remains unlikely

Emirati man fights his employer to serve in country’s army

Palestinian PM to visit Gaza next week

Saudi advisory body to tackle female driving ban

Turkey denies closing Iraqi border in response to Kurdish vote

US air strikes kill 17 Islamic State militants in Libya

Yemen's Hadi says military solution 'most likely'

The high cost of Syria’s destruction

Palestinian negotiator awaits lung transplant in US

Kurds ready for contentious vote in Iraq

A Kurdish state: Reality or utopia?

Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen

Saudi Arabia marks national day with fireworks, concerts

Iran defies US, tests missile

Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Barzani delays Kurdish independence vote announcement

Syria's war off the radar at UN assembly

For many Iraqis, tradition trumps police

Darfur clashes kill 3 as Bashir urges reconciliation

Saudi cleric banned for saying women have ‘quarter’ brain

Veteran Syrian activist, daughter assassinated in Istanbul

Tunisia drops forced anal exams for homosexuality

Bomb used in Saudi-led strike on Yemen children US-made

Syria Kurds vote to cement federal push

Police charge teenager over London Underground attack

Nigerian official to meet Turkish counterpart over illegal guns

Thousands feared trapped in Raqa as IS mounts last stand

Iraqi forces achieve first step in new offensive on IS

Migrant boat sinks off Turkish Black Sea coast leaving four dead, 20 missing

Trump praises 'friend' Erdogan

Yemen leader promises UN to open entire country to aid

Rouhani vows Iran will boost missiles despite US criticism

Russia clashes with EU over Syria

UN Security Council warns against holding Iraqi Kurd vote