March 23, 2009 / 10:44 AM / 10 years ago

Sudan's Bashir in Eritrea after ICC warrant

(Adds details, background)

NAIROBI, March 23 (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir arrived in Eritrea on Monday on his first foreign visit since he was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur, Eritrea’s government said.

"Yes, he is here," Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu told Reuters by telephone. "He is meeting with President Isaias, and they are discussing bilateral relations. Why should we worry about the ICC issue?"

Bashir risks being detained if he leaves Sudan after The Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant for him this month on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On Sunday, Sudanese state media said local Islamic scholars had advised the president not to travel to an Arab summit in Qatar at the end of March.

International experts say at least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.7 million driven from their homes in almost six years of fighting in Darfur, a mainly desert region in western Sudan. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.

The conflict flared when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, demanding better representation and accusing Khartoum of neglecting the development of the region. (Reporting by Jack Kimball; Writing by Daniel Wallis)

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