Sudan urges West to forget about Darfur war crimes warrant
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Sudanese envoys in Paris on Thursday urged the international community to normalise ties with their country, and forget about the ICC war crimes arrest warrant issued against their president Omar al-Bashir.
AFP - Sudanese envoys urged the West Thursday to forget about the war crimes arrest warrant issued against their president and said Khartoum wanted to normalise ties with the international community.
"If we can't have cooperative and friendly bilateral ties, that will have an effect on the Darfur question and the peace deal with the South," Nafie Ali Nafie, a senior adviser to President Omar al-Beshir, warned in Paris.
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court accuse Beshir of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western region of Darfur, where the United Nations says six years of conflict has killed 300,000 people.
In addition to fighting with rebels in Darfur, Khartoum has since 2005 had a shaky ceasefire with former separatist leaders in the south.
Nafie and fellow senior Beshir aide Othman Ishmael have spent three days in Paris meeting diplomatic officials, including French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Britain's junior foreign minister Mark Malloch Brown.
French officials said they told them that Sudan must cooperate with the ICC arrest warrant and lift an ban on international aid workers in Darfur.
Beshir's envoys told reporters Sudan hoped to normalise its relations with Western capitals, but they did nothing to moderate Beshir's harsh language and dismissed the ICC arrest warrant as dangerous and impractical.
"There are problems in Africa that are much more complicated that those of Darfur, but the West adopts a much more moderate attitude to these than it does to Darfur," Nafie complained.
He described the international arrest warrant as "blackmail and a Western political tool to recolonise Africa" and accused the ICC of seeking to topple the Khartoum government, boasting: "The government is stronger than ever."
Nafie also dismissed concerns over the ban on 13 foreign aid agencies in Darfur, declaring that the expulsion of relief workers had had no effect on the situation there and that Sudan would not allow them back.
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