Amr Mussa, the Arab League chief, has visited Sudan's capital Khartoum with a plan aimed at stalling a possible legal move against Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, for alleged genocide in Darfur.
Bashir was to receive Mussa on Sunday, following an agreement from Arab foreign ministers seeking a political solution to the crisis sparked when the world court prosecutor sought an arrest warrant for Bashir.
The Arab League on Saturday resolved to support Sudan and criticised Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, calling him "unbalanced".
It said Sudanese courts should judge those accused of war crimes during Darfur's five-year conflict.
'Torture and rape'
Moreno-Ocampo accuses Bashir of personally instructing his forces to annihilate three non-Arab ethnic groups in Darfur, masterminding murder, torture, pillaging and the use of rape to commit genocide.
The UN says that up to 300,000 people have died and more than 2.2 million have fled their homes since the conflict erupted in February 2003.
Sudan says 10,000 have been killed.
The conflict began when African ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime and state-backed Arab armed groups, fighting for resources and power in one of the most remote and deprived places on earth.
On Monday, Moreno-Ocampo asked ICC judges to issue a warrant for Bashir's arrest.
If granted, it would be the first issued by The Hague-based court against a sitting head of state.
|The conflict has displaced millions and killed at least 300,000 [File: EPA]
Mussa has refused to divulge details of the plan before his meetings in Khartoum, but the Arab League on Saturday urged Sudan to give suspected Darfur war criminals trials that were not a "sham".
According to the ICC statute, if credible trials of alleged war criminals are held domestically the court's own charges are dropped.
Sudan's two other ICC indictees - Ahmed Harun, a current cabinet minister, and Ali Kosheib, the Arab leader of a rebel group - had both been set to face trial in Sudanese courts on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Kosheib's trial was indefinitely suspended in March 2007. Harun was briefly detained and released last October for lack of evidence.
Sudanese diplomatic efforts now focus on persuading the UN Security Council to freeze any prosecution of Bashir for a year, warning that peace prospects would be severely undermined.
Meanwhile, the new international mediator for the Darfur conflict said on Sunday he was impressed to see initiatives for peace and dialogue during his first visit to Sudan since his appointment.
"I was impressed to see ... desire and initiatives to start to promote dialogue, peace and stability in Sudan. And this is the direction in which I am going to work in the coming days," said Djibril Bassole, Burkina Faso's foreign minister who was appointed joint African Union-United Nations mediator for Darfur last month.
Bassole said he was in Sudan to familiarise himself with the issues.
He described the task ahead as "difficult, but not impossible" and said it would be for the Sudanese to define the main priorities of his job.