Sudan president asks Russia for protection from US
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Thursday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused the US of fomenting the conflict in Sudan and asked Russia for help.
"We are thankful to Russia for its position on the international arena, including Russia's position in the protection of Sudan. We are in need of protection from the aggressive acts of the United States," al-Bashir said.
Sudan's president also praised Moscow's military campaign in Syria and highlighted his intentions to ramp up military ties with Russia.
"We are currently launching a program to modernize our armed forces and we agreed with the defense minister that Russia will contribute to this."
Putin meanwhile said that Russia wanted to intensify economic ties with Sudan, including in agriculture and energy.
"There are prospects not only in the hydrocarbon sphere but also in energy," Putin said. "There are many prospects of cooperation."
ICC warrant for Bashir
Al-Bashir's visit came a month after the United States lifted a trade embargo it had imposed on Sudan in 1997 over Khartoum's alleged backing of Islamist militant groups. US President Donald Trump also removed Sudan from the list of countries facing the current US travel ban.
Al-Bashir, however, who rose to power in 1989, is on the International Criminal Court's wanted list for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.
ICC prosecutors issued warrants for his arrest in 2009 and 2010, and has called for his resignation, but Bashir continues to deny the charges against him.
Sudan's deadly conflict in Darfur broke out in 2003 when ethnic minority groups took up arms against Bashir's Arab-dominated government, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The UN says that the ensuing counterinsurgency left at least 300,000 people in Sudan dead and more than 2.5 million displaced in the impoverished African state as a result of the conflict.
Top Sudanese officials claim that the conflict has ended, but the region continues to see regular fighting between numerous ethnic and tribal groups.
ss/kms (AP, AFP)