Sudan's Bashir to visit China in rare long-distance trip

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has evaded justice since his indictment in 2009 for alleged crimes committed in the Darfur conflict (AFP Photo/Ashraf Shazly)

Khartoum (AFP) - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is to make a rare long-distance visit to China, the foreign ministry said Sunday, despite an International Criminal Court indictment for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Bashir is to attend September 3 celebrations marking Japan's defeat in World War II and meet his Chinese counterpart, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

"President Bashir will travel to China tomorrow (Monday) on a visit lasting four days," Ali al-Sadeq told reporters.

The International Criminal Court indicted Bashir over war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2009 and genocide charges in 2010, all relating to the Darfur conflict.

He has since regularly travelled to Sudan's neighbours but rarely makes long-distance visits. He last travelled to China in 2011.

China is not a signatory to the ICC but is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which referred the Darfur case to the court.

A South African court ordered authorities to stop Bashir from leaving the country when he attended an African Union summit in Johannesburg in June, but he was allowed to fly out.

The government said Bashir had immunity from arrest because he was attending an AU summit.

The Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 when ethnic insurgents mounted a campaign against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government, complaining of marginalisation.

It has left 300,000 dead and some 2.5 million displaced, according to UN figures.