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China defends Bashir visit as 'reasonable'
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 21, 2011

China insisted Tuesday it was "quite reasonable" for it to host Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for genocide and war crimes and is unwelcome in most of the world.

China's foreign ministry said last week that President Hu Jintao and other leaders would meet Bashir on his June 27-30 visit, during which the two sides would discuss ways to consolidate their "traditional friendship".

Beijing is a key supporter of Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in the country's war-torn western Darfur region, where the United Nations says about 300,000 people have died since 2003.

"In recent years President Bashir has made many visits to other countries and was warmly welcomed by the relevant countries," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

"It's quite reasonable for China to invite the head of a state that has diplomatic ties with China to come for a visit."

The Sudanese president is the first sitting head of state to be targeted by a warrant issued by the ICC, and any member country of the court is obliged to arrest him if he visits.

Hong pointed out that China is not a party to those statutes, and said it "reserves its opinion in the ICC's prosecution against Bashir".

Beijing is a key military supplier to the regime in Khartoum and the biggest buyer of the country's oil -- most of which is located in the south, which will become independent next month.

Human Rights Watch on Monday urged China not to host Bashir, calling Beijing's invitation an "affront to victims of heinous crimes committed in Darfur".

A number of nations have refused visits by Bashir after pressure from human rights groups, and he recently cancelled plans to attend a summit in Malaysia.

Malaysia declared earlier this year that it plans to recognise the ICC's jurisdiction to show its commitment to fighting crimes against humanity.

But premier Najib Razak nevertheless defended the invitation to Bashir, saying: "We are not yet a member of the statute of Rome (the treaty setting up the ICC) and therefore we are not obliged to comply by its decision."

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Singapore urges China to come clean in dispute
Singapore (AFP) June 20, 2011
Singapore on Monday urged China to be more open about the extent of its territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying Beijing's ambiguity was causing international concern. The foreign ministry said while Singapore had no claims of its own, the city-state was a major trading nation whose interests could be affected by issues relating to freedom of navigation in the area. Tensions bet ... read more

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