Ethiopia greeted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with a full state reception on Tuesday at the start of his latest trip abroad in defiance of an international arrest warrant. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the warrant for the Sudanese leader last month, charging him with masterminding war crimes in Darfur in western Sudan.

bashireEthiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi met Bashir at the airport, where a band played as he left his plane and Sudanese living in Ethiopia cheered his arrival. “Sudan is our immediate neighbour,” Meles told reporters after talks with Bashir in Addis Ababa. “Our relationship is not affected by the indictment.”

Bashir has visited Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia since the ICC issued the arrest warrant. “(The warrant) will not affect the movement or activities of the president or any other Sudanese official,” Bashir told reporters, adding that the indictment was positive for Sudan because of support from the African Union and the Arab League.

The African Union, whose base is in Addis Ababa, says the warrant is likely to compromise peace efforts in Darfur and the 53-member organisation wants the indictment deferred. Western diplomats in the Ethiopian capital are boycotting a state dinner in Bashir’s honour but the majority of African ambassadors will attend.



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