Hu, Bashir Open Talks After Red-Carpet Welcome

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 1:00 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese President Hu Jintao has held talks with Omar al-Bashir after a red-carpet welcome for the Sudanese president, who faces an international arrest warrant for crimes against humanity.

In opening remarks at the Great Hall of the People Wednesday, Mr. Hu said he hopes the controversial visit will consolidate friendship between the two countries and promote cooperation in a number of fields.

The two were to join other officials later Wednesday to sign a number of cooperation agreements. China is a key arms supplier to Sudan and the biggest buyer of its oil.

Human rights groups object to the visit, noting that the International Criminal Court is seeking Mr. Bashir's arrest on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western Darfur region. Fighting in the region has killed an estimated 300,000 people since 2003.

At a briefing in Beijing Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China is not a member of the International Criminal Court and so reserves judgment on the warrant. He said Beijing has seen other countries warmly welcome Mr. Bashir, and it is natural for China to do the same thing.

Hong also said China believes the visit will help resolve the conflict in Darfur and ease next week's separation of Sudan into two countries.

Southern Sudan, which possesses much of Sudan's oil resources, is scheduled to become an independent country on July 9. Mr. Hu and Mr. Bashir both were expected to seek assurances that the split will not impair economic cooperation between their countries.