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France could back suspension of war crimes probe

Latest update : 2008-09-19

France has raised the possibility of suspending international war crimes proceedings against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in exchange for a "gesture" of good will from Khartoum on Darfur.

PARIS - France said on Friday that Sudan should end the Darfur
crisis regardless of international moves to indict Sudan's
president for war crimes.

France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert told reporters
this week that Paris might be open to the idea of freezing any
eventual action by the International Criminal Court provided
Sudan met specific conditions regarding Darfur.

But the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement on
Friday that it was not linking the two issues.

"France wants the ICC procedures to be respected," it said.
"France is not leading any negotiations."

In July, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the
court's judges to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President
Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes in Sudan's conflict-ravaged
Darfur region.

Moreno-Ocampo accused the Sudanese leader of launching a
campaign of genocide in 2003 that has killed 35,000 people
outright, at least 100,000 more through starvation and disease
and forced 2.5 million from their homes.

Although the ICC judges are not expected to make a decision
before October or November, officials from some Western
governments have been saying privately that issuing a warrant
for Bashir's arrest might do more harm than good.

The French Foreign Ministry said that regardless of the ICC
actions, it wanted Sudan to help ease the Darfur crisis by
calling an immediate ceasefire, taking part in political talks
with rival camps and normalising relations with neighbour Chad.

Date created : 2008-09-19