Mubarak in Sudan for talks on Darfur crisis
KHARTOUM (AFP) — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks with Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir in Khartoum on Monday focused on the crisis in Darfur, where Beshir stands accused of war crimes and genocide.
"The best way to find a solution to this problem (the conflict in Darfur) is the Arab and African initiative," Mubarak told reporters at Beshir's heavily guarded guest house, without going into detail.
Mubarak supports a position advocated by the African Union that Beshir be allowed time to implement a ceasefire in Sudan's western region of Darfur, where Khartoum has been accused of brutally repressing a five-year uprising.
To that effect, the African Union and the Arab League have asked the UN Security Council to delay any decision from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on whether to formally indict the Sudanese head of state.
"For a long time we discussed the situation in Darfur. The crisis in Darfur is very complicated and we are trying to find a solution in cooperation with the Sudanese government," Mubarak said.
Although he did not mention the ICC, an Egyptian official told AFP the talks would deal with accusations from the court's prosecutor that Beshir is guilty of 10 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
After less than two hours in the Sudanese capital, Mubarak boarded his presidential jet and took off for Juba, the seat of the semi-autonomous government in southern Sudan that shares power with Beshir at a central level.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor told reporters that Mubarak asked many questions about the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between north and south Sudan, and how to work for the unity of the country.
There are deep-set fears among the international community that an ICC indictment could have serious repercussions on the implementation of the 2005 deal that ended what was Africa's longest running civil war.
"He (Mubarak) said the government of Sudan has to support the government of southern Sudan and he is on his way to Juba to discuss these issues with the government of south Sudan," said Alor.
He said the ICC did not come up in the open meeting, but that perhaps it was discussed in the closed talks between Beshir and Mubarak.
Mubarak, accompanied by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and security strongman Omar Suleiman, was embraced by Beshir on the red carpet and treated to an honour guard at Khartoum airport.
ICC judges have given the prosecution until November 17 to provide additional evidence before they decide whether to issue a warrant for Beshir's arrest.
Sudan is seeking to avert an ICC trial and convince a sceptical West that it is serious about unblocking stalled peace efforts in Darfur.
ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in July accused the Sudanese leader of personally instructing his forces to annihilate three non-Arab ethnic groups in Darfur, where a civil war has been raging since 2003.