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Turkey urges Sudan to resolve Darfur

August 20, 2008|From the Associated Press

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Turkey's president said Tuesday that he had urged Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir to act responsibly and end the suffering in the devastated Darfur region.

Bashir is visiting Turkey for a summit of African leaders, his first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court indicted him in July on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court accuse Bashir of unleashing militias on groups in Darfur that rebelled against his Sudanese Arab-led government. At least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced since 2003.

"Human suffering agitates all, no matter which religion, ethnicity or language those who suffer belong to," Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he told Bashir during their closed meeting.

"I told the president that the Sudanese government should work hard" to end the violence, Gul said.

The Sudanese leader has said Khartoum does not recognize the court in The Hague and will not cooperate with it.

Neither Sudan nor Turkey signed the treaty that founded the court, meaning that Turkish authorities are unlikely to arrest Bashir even if the court's international prosecutor is able to issue a warrant. A panel of judges was reviewing evidence submitted by the prosecutor for a warrant.

However, Turkey -- which aspires to join the European Union -- is under pressure to take a critical stance on Sudan.

Bashir was among the heads of state at the Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit, aimed at expanding Turkey's diplomatic and trade ties with African nations. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was not expected to attend.

Turkey also is trying to finalize its membership process in the African Development Bank Group.

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