Home | News    Wednesday 9 April 2008

Dutch minister visit to Sudan is just delayed - official

April 8, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese government deferred a planned visit by for Dutch Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop to Khartoum but denied cancellation of the visit saying it was just delayed.

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Eimert Van Middelkoop

The Dutch press led by the newspaper Volkskrant speculated Tuesday that Sudan had refused to deliver the visa reacting to a controversial anti-Islam film made by a right-wing Dutch parliamentary deputy that appeared on the Internet last month.

"We didn’t deny him the visa.... We don’t have any particular position against any Dutch minister," said the spokesperson of the Sudan’s foreign ministry, Ali al-Sadiq.

A Dutch MP known for his anti-Islamic views, Geert Wilders, in his recent film "Fitna", criticised the Koran, Islam’s holy book, claiming it incites violence by Islamic extremists.

The Dutch government has distanced itself from the film.

Last February, Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir ordered that no Danish diplomat be received in the country to protest re-publication of cartoons considered insulting to prophet Muhammad.

Today morning the Dutch government confirmed Khartoum’s failure to deliver the visa without elaboration. "We can confirm that the visa was not delivered, therefore the minister decided to postpone his journey," a Dutch official said.

The Sudanese official said the visit is delayed due to Sudanese minister commitments.

"It’s only that... due to prior commitments the minister of defence of Sudan was unable to see the minister because he’s already engaged." Sadiq said.

He added that they consult with the Dutch embassy in Khartoum to find a better date where the visit can take place.

Van Middelkoop had planned both to meet Dutch UN observers in the south, and also meet Sudanese government officials in the capital Khartoum.

The Dutch are part of the joint UN and African Union force of some 26,000 soldiers and police in the war torn Darfur region.

(ST)