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Turkey defends Sudan leader visit

Abdullah Gul, 16 Oct
Gul says Istanbul will not enforce the ICC arrest warrant against Bashir

Turkish President Abdullah Gul has accused the EU of interfering after Ankara was asked to reconsider an invitation to the president of Sudan.

Omar al-Bashir has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But Mr Gul said he was invited to a summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), not for bilateral talks with Turkish officials.

Turkey, which has applied for EU membership, does not recognise the ICC.

It says it has no plans to arrest Mr Bashir, who is due to attend an OIC economic summit in Istanbul on Sunday and Monday.

Turkey insists it is not shifting away from its traditionally close ties to the West.

But the BBC's Jonathan Head, in Istanbul, says the country is certainly choosing some controversial new partnerships.

The visit by the Sudanese president comes fresh on the heels of the Turkish prime minister's groundbreaking state visit to Iran in October, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that country's nuclear programme to be entirely peaceful.

Mr Bashir's visit to Turkey will be his third in the past 18 months, but his first since the ICC arrest warrant was issued in March.

A coalition of Turkish human rights groups is protesting against the visit, our correspondent says.

They have accused the government of double standards for condemning Israel over its actions in Gaza, and then hosting a president who is blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Darfur.



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