"It could be [issued], but given all the political circumstances, so what?", he said.

"We are not concerned because we know that this is a political set-up and we do not recognise it."

'Co-operation' call

ICC prosecutors said last year that they had evidence that al-Bashir had committed war crimes, but the precise charges against the president have not been disclosed.

If a warrant is issued, it would be the first time the ICC has sought the detention of a sitting head of state since it was established in 2002.

Reports of the arrest warrant came as the Sudanese government and the opposition Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) met in Qatar.

Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the JEM, and Nafie Ali Nafie, the head of a Sudanese government delegation, held face-to-face talks in Doha, the Qatari capital, marking the first peace negotiations between the group and Khartoum since 2007.

'Deliberate leak'

The talks, which are under the auspices of Qatar, the United Nations and the African Union, continued on Thursday.

Ali Nafie (l) and Ibrahim (r) are in Qatar
for peace talks [AFP]

 

 

James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent at the talks, said the issue of an arrest warrant, while not official, was the main point of discussion on the sidelines.

"One theory here is that the leak from the UN was quite deliberate," Bays said.

"They were flagging up the possibility of an imminent arrest warrant, because they know that this peace deal is getting close.

"They didn't want the parties here ... to come to a deal and then that deal have to be torn up in a couple of weeks when that arrest warrant is issued."

'Campaign of genocide'

Bays said that Ali Nafie had said that any arrest warrant was a colonial effort to colonise Africa and that there was no way that their government would be surrendered.

Last year Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief ICC prosecutor, asked the court's judges to indict al-Bashir for orchestrating what he described as a "campaign of genocide" in Sudan's western Darfur region in which the UN says 300,000 have been killed and 2.5 million made homeless.

Sudan has rejected the use of the term genocide and said 10,000 people died.

The Sudanese government has said that it would continue co-operating with UN peacekeepers in the country even if al-Bashir is indicted, but has warned there may be widespread demonstrations of public outrage.