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Bashir leaves for Libya today to discuss “bilateral ties”

August 3, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir is due to venture into a new foreign trip to neighboring Libya today on a two-day official visit, local media and the official SUNA reported.

Sudan"s Bashir and Libya's GadhafiAlrayy alamm newspaper quoted insiders as saying that the visit aims at discussing “bilateral relations” as well as “relevant developments especially in Darfur to the background of the latest developments in the province.”

Bashir would be accompanied by a delegation comprising Bakri Hassan Salih, Minister of Presidency Affairs; General Mohamed Ata Almawla, the head of the National Intelligence and Security Services, and Kamal Hassan Ali, Minister of State at the Foreign Ministry as well as Presidential adviser, Mustafa Osman Ismail. Bashir’s visit is a response to an invitation he received on 9 July from President al-Gaddafi to attend three summits to be held in Sirte, Libya, this year.

This will be Bashir’s second foreign trip since the International Criminal Court (ICC) last month issued a second warrant for his arrest on three counts of genocide allegedly committed in Darfur region where clashes between government forces and rebels claimed 300,000 lives since 2003, according to UN estimates.

He visited Chad on 22 July and stayed there for two days but the latter refused to execute the arrest warrant despite being a signatory of the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statue, and thus under legal obligation to apprehend and extradite Bashir once he sets foot in its territories.

The AU’s 15th summit in Kampala last month reiterated support for Bashir and instructed its state members not to cooperate with the ICC on Bashir’s case.

Bashir’s visit could herald a thaw in Libyan-Sudanese ties which recently frayed over Libya’s sheltering of Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim.

Ibrahim’s rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, pulled out of the Qatari-hosted peace talks in Doha and clashed with government forces in Darfur.

On 28 June, Sudan closed its border with Libya but officials denied that the move was prompted by Khalil’s existence in Libya.

The authorities in Sudan closed Al-Intibaha newspaper whose editor-in-chief, Altayyib Mustafa, recently wrote a column containing derogatory remarks against the Libyan president.