US protests attendance of Omar al-Bashir, a wanted fugitive of the International Criminal Court, at a meeting in Saudi Arabia where Trump will be
Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir is wanted for war crimes committed by his forces in the province of Darfur. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images
Julian Borger in Washington
The US has protested against plans by the Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to attend a summit in Riyadh this weekend alongside Donald Trump.
“I can confirm President Bashir will go … to Saudi Arabia,” Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday, according to Agence France Presse. “We look forward (to) normalisation of our relations with the US.”
Riyadh will be the venue for a summit of Islamic leaders on Sunday which will be part of Trump’s Middle East tour. But the announcement came as a surprise to the White House.
“My understanding was that he would NOT be at the meeting with the president,” Michael Anton, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said in an email. Anton said it was possible that Bashir could be going to Saudi Arabia but not attending the summit.
Bashir has been a wanted fugitive from the ICC since March 2009, when the court issued a first warrant for his arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his forces between 2003 and 2008 in the Sudanese province of Darfur.
The US embassy in Khartoum issued a statement saying that the US “has made its position with respect to Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir’s travel clear. We oppose invitations, facilitation, or support for travel by any person subject to outstanding International Criminal Court arrest warrants, including President Bashir.”
The embassy statement also said that Sudan was still on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism and therefore subject to sanctions.
Bashir’s threatened appearance is the latest controversy surrounding Trump’s first trip abroad, which is already fraught before getting off the ground on Friday. After spending the weekend in Riyadh, the president is due to arrive in Israel, where there is uproar over revelations that the president shared top secret intelligence about a terror plot, reportedly provided by Israel, with senior Russian officials in the Oval Office on 10 May.
The White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, confirmed that Trump had talked by phone with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Tuesday, when it was first reported that the shared intelligence had come from Israel. The White House had not previously acknowledged the call, but Spicer claimed it had been purely for the purposes of “logistical and trip preparation”.
Such logistical preparations are normally handled by a team of White House aides, while calls between leaders usually involve issues of policy in bilateral relations.
Source – The Guardian
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