[dehai-news] (Reuters): Eritrea invites Bashir, condemns Hague warrant

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Mar 11 2009 - 07:40:23 EST

Eritrea invites Bashir, condemns Hague warrant

Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:54am GMT

NAIROBI, March 11 (Reuters) - Eritrea on Wednesday invited Sudanese
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to visit the Red Sea state and condemned a
Hague-court warrant for his arrest on Darfur war crimes charges.

Asmara and Khartoum have strengthened relations in recent years after
breaking ties in the 1990s over Sudan's support of Islamist guerrillas in
western Eritrea -- an area, explorers say, is rich in gold and other metals.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest
warrant for Bashir for crimes in the western Darfur region. U.N. officials
say as many as 300,000 people have died there since 2003.

"(Eritrea) ... underlined that the drama being orchestrated by the so-called
ICC amply demonstrates the anti-people stance and defamatory conspiracy on
the part of external forces," an Eritrean government statement said.

"The ICC allegation targets Sudanese sovereignty and territorial integrity,"
it said on the information ministry website, shabait.com.

Eritrea said it had sent its foreign minister and three of the most powerful
ruling party officials to Khartoum to discuss the ICC warrant.

The neighbours have accused each other over many years of supporting rebel
groups in each other's territory, but have developed closer ties since
Eritrea brokered a peace deal between Khartoum and eastern Sudanese rebels
in 2006.

The border with Sudan is an important conduit for goods into Eritrea.

Eritrea has also been heavily involved in Darfur, and has been accused of
sending weapons to rebels there as well as hosting some of the rebel groups
in Eritrea's capital, Asmara. (Editing by Louise Ireland)

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


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