Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has pulled out of the Arab-Islamic-American summit citing “personal reasons” for being unable to attend the talks due to be held in Saudi Arabia this weekend, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported.
In a short statement, Al-Bashir apologised to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his inability to attend but said that Minister of State Taha Al-Hussein would represent Sudan at the two-day summit in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, instead.
Today’s announcement follows mounting Western diplomatic pressure over the past few days, including from US diplomats, objecting to Al-Bashir’s attendance in Riyadh where he was scheduled to listen to US President Donald Trump’s speech alongside other Muslim leaders.
In a statement on Wednesday, the US Embassy in Khartoum declared its opposition to the visit saying it “opposed invitations, facilitations or support for travel by any person subject to outstanding International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants, including President Al-Bashir.”
The Embassy also said that Sudan was still one of the countries listed as a state sponsor of terrorism and needed to “take steps for the United States to consider delisting, as well as what would be required to make progress in easing economic sanctions,” the statement read.
Late yesterday, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, speaking to reporters in Geneva, confirmed that Al-Bashir would attend. But in his statement this morning Al-Bashir, who did not elaborate on the nature of his “personal reasons”, expressed support for the talks saying:
[Al-Bashir] hopes the summit would be successful, beneficial to humanity and achieve the objective of bringing about world peace through a new partnership that would confront and eradicate terrorism and spread mutual tolerance and cooperation.
The special Arab-Islamic-American summit is expected to be attended by around 50 leaders from the Muslim world and will discuss ways of combatting international terrorism. The talks, according to Washington, are also part of plans to restart the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and reassert a US security role in the region.