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Turkey criticized over Sudan president

Turkey criticized over Sudan president

Turkey should arrest Sudan's president if he visits Istanbul because of an international warrant against him for atrocities in Darfur, human rights groups said Friday.
Turkey, however, has indicated that it would welcome President Omar al-Bashir, who will reportedly arrive in Istanbul on Monday for a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference, a bloc of Muslim countries.
"It would be a disgrace for Turkey to offer him safe haven," Amnesty International senior legal adviser Christopher Keith Hall said. Human Rights Watch said Turkey's international image will suffer if it welcomes al-Bashir.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court issued a warrant against al-Bashir in March, accusing him of orchestrating atrocities in Sudan's western Darfur region.
Turkey is not a state party to the court and is not legally bound to arrest al-Bashir. It is a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, which urges states to assist the court.
Turkish authorities have responded to questions about al-Bashir's visit by noting that visitors to the Islamic conference will attend an international event, not a bilateral one.
On Friday, Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper quoted President Abdullah Gul as saying al-Bashir was coming for a "special meeting" and that outside interference in the matter was inappropriate.
Turkey is engaged in a struggling effort to join the European Union, which would oppose a visit by al-Bashir. It is expanding its contacts with other Muslim and regional countries, carving out a foreign policy that is distinct from its Cold War-era loyalty to the West.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country is locked in a dispute with the West over its nuclear activities, is also expected to attend the Islamic forum in Istanbul.