Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, subject to an international arrest warrant for suspected genocide, has declined an invitation by Saudi Arabia to participate in a summit with US President Donald Trump and other leaders in Riyadh.
“President Omar al-Bashir has apologized to King Salman of Saudi Arabia for being unable to attend the Riyadh summit,” a statement from Bashir’s office carried by the official SUNA news agency said on Friday. Saudi Arabia, which has arranged a summit of Arab leaders with Trump, had ignored the international arrest warrant against Bashir, inviting him to the summit. Trump will be traveling to Saudi Arabia in his first overseas trip on Friday. Prior to the cancellation, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour had said Bashir would take part in the summit and had voiced Khartoum’s eagerness for the “normalization of our relations with the US.” Bashir has evaded arrest since The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him on July 12, 2010 for alleged genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity related to the 14-year-old conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. An earlier arrest warrant had also been issued for the Sudanese president by the ICC in March 2009 for charges including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bashir has strongly denied the allegations against him, dismissing them as part of a Western conspiracy to seize Sudan’s oil, gas, and other natural resources. The armed conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced two million, according to the United Nations (UN).—Agencies