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Iran and Hamas back Sudan's Bashir
Leaders from the Middle East visit Khartoum in support of the Sudanese president.
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2009 15:41 GMT

Ali Larijani, left, described the warrant as an 'insult directed at Muslims' [AFP]

A delegation of senior Middle Eastern leaders has travelled to Sudan to express international support for Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, who is accused of war crimes in Darfur.

Officials from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah joined Syria's parliament speaker and the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group for talks with al-Bashir in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, on Friday.

The visit comes days after the International Criminal Court at The Hague issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Ali Larijani, Iran's parliament speaker and a member of the international delegation in Khartoum on Friday, said the ICC arrest warrant is an "insult directed at Muslims".

"This group today indicates a readiness, a will and a unified position to support Sudan, its government and people," Larijani said at a news conference following the talks.

He said nations who support al-Bashir's prosecution "miscalculated" by thinking they "can sit and issue orders to have others behave as they wish".

"This has changed," Larijani said. "They have to play with a new chessboard.""

'Catastrophic' impact

Meanwhile, the leader of Sudan's semi-autonomous southern region urged Khartoum on Saturday to reverse its decision to expel humanitarian groups from the country.

The Khartoum government shut down 13 foreign and local aid agencies after accusing them of passing information to war crimes prosecutors.

The groups have denied the accusations.

Yien Matthew, a spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), said the expulsion could have a "catastrophic" impact on tens of thousand of displaced Darfuris.

UN warning

The United Nations has said thousands of lives have been put at risk by the decision to expel the aid groups. It warned that more than a million people could be left without food, water or healthcare.

The UN's main human rights office had said earlier on Friday it would examine whether Sudan's decision to expel the groups constitutes a breach of basic human rights and possibly a war crime, a spokesman said.

But the UN Security Council failed on Friday to agree on a response to Sudan's decision to expel the groups. 

Western diplomats said the 15-member council had agreed to express its "concern", but was unable to agree to a joint statement.

Source:
Agencies
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