India opposes any action that may endanger Sudan's unity

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (UNI) India today said any action that might harm the ongoing efforts for an early resolution of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region and for promoting the unity and territorial integrity of the African nation, may have undesirable consequences.

The message, referring to the warrant of arrest by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudan's President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, was conveyed to the country's Minister of Finance and National Economy, Dr Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz, who concluded his three-day visit to India today.

The ICC has charged the Sudanese President with war crimes and genocide in Darfur and issued an arrest warrant against him in July.

President Omar has been asked to show progress on several fronts, including speeding up the deployment of Darfur peace-keepers, improving humanitarian conditions and starting a credible peace process.

Only the UN Security Council can ask the ICC to suspend its prosecution.

The African Union (AU), the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League have called for suspending the arrest warrant for 12 months.

Dr Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz, who arrived in India on October 28 as the Special Envoy of the Sudanese President, called on External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee yesterday.

During the meeting, the visiting Minister handed over a letter from the President of Sudan, addressed to the Prime Minister.

The two Ministers discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest and reviewed bilateral relations. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the excellent bilateral relations and outlined further steps to enhance cooperation.

The External Affairs Minister underlined India's continuing commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Sudan.

Regarding the ICC warrant, it was highlighted that India is neither a signatory to nor has it ratified the instrument stablishing the ICC.

''India hopes that any action that might detract from ongoing efforts to reach an early resolution of conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan and aimed also at promoting the unity and territorial integrity of Sudan, may have undesirable consequences,'' a statement by the External Affairs Ministry said.

The External Affairs Minister also expressed concern over Indian nationals, Biplab Biswas and Chinna Rao Karni, technicians who remain missing in Sudan, and sought conclusive information regarding their well-being.

Four Indian oil workers and their Sudanese driver were abducted in May at Heglig, adjoining Abyei, whose status remains disputed following a 2005 peace accord that ended a 21-year civil war.

During the visit, the Sudanese Special Envoy also met Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora.

Minister of State for External Affairs, E Ahamed hosted a dinner in honour of the visiting dignitary.

The Darfur conflict began in early 2003 when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated central government, accusing it of discrimination. The fighting has killed up to 300,000 people and forced 2.5 million to flee.

Sudan has urged India to speak to the internatinal community and the NAM to help disseminate correct information about the situation in Darfur.

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