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Sudan's leader ends Egyptian trip

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir leaves Khartoum airport in Sudan for Egypt on 25 March 2009
Sudan's leader is accused of war crimes in Darfur

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has ended talks in Egypt on his second trip abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for his arrest.

Egypt is not a signatory of the ICC's charter, which obliges member states to arrest those indicted if they enter their territory.

Mr Bashir - who made a short trip to Eritrea on Monday - is to hold talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Sudan's leader is accused of war crimes in his country's Darfur region.

It is unclear if President Bashir still plans to attend a 29-30 March Arab summit in Doha, Qatar.

Defiance

Sudan's highest religious authority, the Committee of Muslim Scholars, this week issued a fatwa urging him not to go, citing threats from enemies.

The president has said before the warrant is not worth the ink it is written with - and this is the message of this trip
Ali Youssef Ahmed
Sudan foreign ministry

Mr Bashir was received at Cairo's airport on Wednesday by the Egyptian president and senior government ministers.

The BBC's Cairo reporter Ranyah Sabry says Mr Bashir was wearing a Western style two-piece suit - the first time since the ICC warrant that he has not worn the traditional white Sudanese national costume in public.

The two leaders discussed the search for a resolution to the Darfur conflict.

After the talks, Egypt's foreign minister emphasised Cairo's opposition to the ICC arrest warrant.

"There is an Egyptian, Arab and African stance that does not accept the court's manner in dealing with the Sudanese president," Ahmed Abul Gheit said.

Ali Youssef Ahmed, head of protocol at Sudan's foreign ministry, said Mr Bashir had wanted to show his defiance of the ICC.

Sir John Holmes' aid warning

"The president has said before that the arrest warrant is not worth the ink that it is written with - and this is the message of this trip," he told Reuters news agency.

"The president will continue to travel to countries that are against the ICC - and there are many of these countries."

Many African and Arab states, along with Sudan's key ally China, have called for the ICC warrant to be suspended, arguing it will hamper efforts to bring peace to Darfur.

The Egypt visit came amid a worsening humanitarian situation in Darfur.

Khartoum ordered the expulsion of 13 international aid agencies in the wake of 4 March arrest warrant.

Deadly camp fire

On Tuesday, the United Nations's humanitarian head John Holmes said the Sudanese government had not done enough to fill the gaps in aid provisions.

Sudanese refugee and child in Darfur, 21 March 2009
Millions of people rely on aid in Sudan's Darfur region

"These are band-aid solutions, not long-term solutions," he said.

He spoke at a news conference to release a joint Sudanese-UN assessment that found more than a million people in Darfur would go without food rations by May unless new aid agencies were deployed.

A fire at Abuza camp for displaced people in western Darfur killed at least two people and destroyed 600 shelters on Tuesday.

The rebel Justice and Equality Movement blamed state-backed militias for the attack.

The ICC accuses Mr Bashir of orchestrating atrocities against civilians in Darfur, where his Arab-led government has been battling black African rebels since 2003.

Up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million have been driven from their homes.

Sudan denies the charges and says the figures are exaggerated.



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