Middle East

Sudan’s president invited to Trump meeting by Saudi Arabia

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been invited to this weekend’s summit in the Saudi capital with US President Donald Trump and leaders from across the Muslim world, Saudi officials close to the king said Tuesday.

Bashir, who has been Sudan’s leader since 1989, is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands for war crime allegations. ICC prosecutors charged Bashir in 2009 and 2010 with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The Saudi officials who confirmed that Bashir had been invited to the meeting spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The summit that Trump is scheduled to attend Sunday, during his first overseas trip as president, is being organized by Saudi Arabia and will gather more than 50 top dignitaries from Muslim countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

In Washington, a senior State Department official said the United States opposes governments inviting anyone subject to outstanding ICC arrest warrants, including al-Bashir, and has made its position clear. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

The ICC has no police force of its own to arrest Bashir and has to rely on member states to comply. Since 2009, some ICC member states have signaled that Bashir would be at risk of arrest if he entered their territory, and in other situations member states have relocated meetings that he was scheduled to attend. However, Saudi Arabia, like the US, is not a party to the ICC.

Saudi King Salman has expressed hope the summit in Riyadh “will establish a new partnership in confronting extremism and terrorism.”

Sudan has been under US financial sanctions since the 1990s after being accused of state-sponsored terrorism. The EU placed an arms embargo on Sudan in 1994.

Shortly before leaving office, President Barack Obama temporarily lifted some financial sanctions on Sudan after seeing a reduction in military offensives by the government. Under the Obama administration, the US condemned a potential visit by Bashir to visit the UN General Assembly meeting held annually in New York.

Sudan is among the six predominantly Muslim countries singled out by Trump for a temporary visa ban.

Sudan has close military, business and political ties with Saudi Arabia. Sudan is also part of a Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen.

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