Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Sunday, 22 February 2009

Sudan leader gets Egypt's support

By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Cairo

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (left) and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak
Mr Bashir (left) need all the friends he can get at the moment

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has expressed appreciation for the support from Egypt during talks in Cairo with Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Bashir is waiting to hear whether he will be served with an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Cairo wants the ICC to defer the arrest warrant for at least a year.

Up to 300,000 people are said to have died in Darfur in a six-year conflict between the government and rebels.

'Arab thinking'

Omar al-Bashir needs all the friends he can summon at the moment, and cementing ties with Egypt was very much the focus of the day.


President Bashir is under enormous international pressure, but over lunch the Egyptians assured him that as long as there is meaningful progress on the Darfur crisis he can count on their support.

Egypt, in line with Arab thinking, believes that if an arrest warrant for Mr Bashir was to be issued at the Hague it could scupper their efforts to mediate between the Sudanese government and the rebels, risking further instability.

The Egyptians want the court to defer the arrest warrant for at least a year to give President Bashir more time.

A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry said that aside from Darfur the two leaders also discussed the precarious peace between North and South which now stands at a crucial crossroads.

With two years remaining before a referendum on self-determination for the South, experts say confidence in the so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement is diminishing, with mistrust mounting between the two parties.

The ICC will no doubt base its decision on whether the arrest warrant endangers progress on the varied peace negotiations or whether they would be further advanced with the president out of the picture.

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