Sudan’s Bashir heads to Libya

Sudan president Omar Bashir/FILE

, KHARTOUM, Jan 7 – Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir flew to Libya on Saturday, official media said, marking his first visit since the overthrow and subsequent killing of veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
During his two-day visit, Bashir will hold talks with the ruling National Transitional Council on “issues of mutual interest”, the official Sudan News Agency reported.
Bashir is accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Ali Karti, national security and intelligence director General Mohamed Atta and central bank governor Mohamed Khair al-Zubair, SUNA said.
In September, when Vice President Ali Osman Taha visited Tripoli, Khartoum said it was ready to give its “full support” to Libya’s new interim government.
Bashir has said that Sudan provided weapons to the rebels who overthrew Gaddafi, with whom Sudan had an uneasy relationship. The Libyan leader poured arms across the border into Darfur and long sought greater influence in the western Sudanese region which has seen years of conflict.
In 2010, Gaddafi’s regime offered sanctuary to Darfur rebel chief Ibrahim Khalil, who was killed in Sudan last month after his return to the country.
Libya’s presence was felt in a different way in the capital Khartoum, where state-run Lafico, the Libyan Foreign Investment Company, spent 130 million euros (190 million dollars) to open the Burj al-Fateh Hotel in 2008. With its egg-shaped design, Sudan’s flashiest accommodation became a city landmark.
Gaddafi was killed in October when rebels seized his last bastion. He was wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for suspected crimes against humanity committed during his attempted suppression of the revolt that started last February.
The ICC has also issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur.

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