DOHA (Agencies) – Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir defied an international arrest warrant by travelling to Doha on Sunday for an Arab summit.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who has also flown in to the Qatari capital, will still attend the summit which opens on Monday despite the presence of Beshir, a UN official said.
"Sudan is a member of the United Nations while the International Criminal Court is an independent judicial body, which does not prevent the United Nations from dealing with Sudan," the official told AFP requesting anonymity.
Doha became Beshir’s fourth trip abroad since the ICC issued the warrant on March 4 for alleged war crimes in the conflict-battered Darfur region of western Sudan.
Qatar‘s premier urged foreign ministers who met ahead of the summit to strive for a unified front, beyond the show of solidarity with Sudan. "We have to live up to our responsibilities and work towards closing ranks," he said.
Arab foreign ministers on Saturday approved a draft declaration calling for the annulment of the ICC measures against Beshir and urging all Arab states to reject the arrest warrant.
The draft to be presented to the leaders also warns Israel that the Arab peace initiative, first unveiled in 2002, is not an open-ended offer.
The Saudi-inspired initiative offers the Jewish state a full normalisation of ties in return for its withdrawal from Arab territories occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
In Addis Ababa, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi lambasted the ICC on Sunday as representing a "new form of world terrorism" that wanted to recolonise developing countries.
Kadhafi later travelled from the African Union headquarters to Doha for the Arab summit and has been engaged in a mini-summit meeting with HH the Emir SH Hamad Ben Khalifa al-Thani and the Sudanese president in a bid to forge an Arab mechanism to challenge the ICC court order against the Sudanese leader.