Sudan's Bashir applies for U.S. visa
KHARTOUM - Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, has applied for a US visa to attend the next United Nations General Assembly, an official said Thursday.
It would be Bashir's first visit to the United States since his 2009 indictment by the Hague-based ICC for alleged war crimes in Sudan's western region of Darfur.
"Yes, President Bashir and his delegation have applied for US visas for attending the UN General Assembly meeting," Bashir's press secretary Obei Ezzedine told AFP.
In 2014, Bashir applied for a visa to attend the General Assembly, which is held in September each year at the UN's headquarters in New York, but it was rejected.
The US embassy in Khartoum could not be reached for comment.
Sudan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Kamal Ismail said it was Khartoum's right to send a delegation to the UN meeting.
"If a country hosting UN institutions refuses to give visas to any other country's delegation for attending UN activities, then the host country is violating its legal committment," Ismail told a news conference.
Washington has regularly condemned Bashir's international travels, and last week lashed out at Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni for hosting the Sudanese leader at his swearing in ceremony in Kampala.
Diplomats from the United States, the European Union and Canada walked out of the ceremony in protest at Bashir's presence.
In theory, states like Uganda who are signatories to the ICC have an obligation to arrest ICC suspects on their territories.
But African leaders have increasingly been resentful of the ICC's authority.
Controversy erupted last year when the South African government did not arrest Bashir when he attended an African Union summit in Johannesburg.
Bashir denies the ICC charges of war crimes.
Darfur has been gripped by conflict since 2003, when ethnic minority rebels rose up against Bashir, complaining that his Arab-dominated government was marginalising the region.
Bashir launched a brutal counter-insurgency and at least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million forced to flee their homes, according to the UN.