Bashir, Libya securing border

2012-01-08 22:40

Benghazi - Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Sunday he was working with Libyan leaders to secure the border between the two countries and prevent the smuggling of weapons to rebel groups in Sudan.

Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on genocide charges, arrived in Libya on Saturday.

Asked on Sunday if he was worried he might be arrested and handed over to the ICC, he answered: "By God, No".

"Not in Libya, I am ready to move around Libya without security guards."

During the visit, Bashir has stressed the need to protect Libya's southern borders, which he said former dictator Muammar Gaddafi used to smuggle weapons to rebels in Sudan.

"We don't want borders for exchanging weapons, rebels and mercenaries," Bashir told a gathering of Sudanese nationals and Libyan officials in the eastern city of Benghazi.

He said Sudan supported diplomatic efforts between Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) and the North African country's neighbours, including Chad, Niger and Mali, to secure borders.

"We want to support these contacts so we can turn Libya's borders with the rest of region's states into a venue for trade and the movement of citizens," he said.

NTC Vice Chair Abdul Hafiz Ghoga confirmed the government was holding discussions on the issue with Sudan and other nations.

"We are working hard on protecting our borders with our neighbours," he said.

Relations between Khartoum and Tripoli were strained during Gaddafi's rule because of the dictator's support for rebels in Sudan's western Darfur region and in South Sudan, which gained independence in July under a 2005 peace deal.

Bashir said Sam-7 anti-aircraft missiles had been smuggled to the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement during Libya's nine-month civil war. He said the missiles posed no danger as they had been stored without proper maintenance.

Bashir said on Saturday he had offered the new Libyan government help from Sudanese troops in protecting Libya's southern borders during the war that ousted Gaddafi, but that his offer had been declined.

Liby and and US officials have said they want to prevent militants from acquiring weapons, especially thousands of anti-aircraft launchers, from Gaddafi's huge arsenals.

Read more on:    omar hassan al-bashir  |  libya  |  sudan  |  north africa  |  east africa

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