By Mariana Rodriguez Pareja
October 1, 2012 (BUENOS AIRES) – The Sudanese government is represented by its ambassador to Brazil at the third summit of South American and Arab countries (ASPA) that started in the Peruvian capital today.
- Official Photo of Foreign Ministers at the Third Summit of South American and Arab countries (ANDINA)
The low level representation by Khartoum at the conference comes in sharp contrast with assertions made by Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti this year that his country is working on enhancing ties with Latin American nations.
The two-day meeting has brought together leaders of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Arab League, with more than 30 nations represented in all.
Among the leaders in attendance are Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Chile’s Sebastian Pinera, Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Uruguay’s José Mujica, Jordan’s Abdullah Bin Al-Hussein, Lebanon’s Michel Suleiman, Tunisia’s Moncef Marzouki and Qatar’s Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Several Arab nations such as Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain are represented by their foreign ministers.
The only two countries absent from the event were Syria and Paraguay as they were excluded by their respective regional groups.
As for Sudan Peruvian government officials refused to comment on the record about whether president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir was invited to attend. The latter has an outstanding warrant for him issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) which makes the court’s member states including Peru obligated to apprehend him should he sets foot on its territories.
Two officials reached in Lima by phone confirmed that “the Republic of the Sudan was invited” and “that for protocol reasons, they "believed’ President al-Bashir was invited”.
Another higher ranking official suggested that the issue is irrelevant "because in the end al Bashir did not come to Peru and the Sudanese Ambassador to Brazil came instead".
When asked about the outstanding ICC arrest warrant he declined to state his government position had Bashir decided to attend the summit.
The Sudanese head of state encountered embarrassing moments at the second ASPA summit that took place in Doha three years ago when the presidents of Brazil and Argentina refused to sit down or appear with Bashir in the group photo.
The summit of Arab and South American countries emerged as a platform for bi-regional dialogue in 2005 at the initiative of then-Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The third summit was originally scheduled to be held in Lima in the first half of 2011, but it was postponed at the time due to the political unrest in the Arab world.