An accused war criminal wants to address the U.N. General Assembly this week, and the Obama administration doesn’t know what to do with him.
The Obama administration faces a challenge and the United Nations faces embarrassment now that Sudanese President Omar Bashir has applied for a U.S. visa to attend the annual General Assembly session, which opens Tuesday.
As the U.N. host country, the United States routinely grants visas to foreign leaders to travel to New York on U.N. business, but Gen. Bashir is under indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. On Sunday, he said at a news conference in Khartoum that it is Sudan’s right to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
“We have made arrangement to participate and there is no law in America [that] gives the right of preventing us,” he said, according to the official Sudan News Agency.
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and other administration officials want Gen. Bashir to surrender to the Netherlands-based tribunal, even though the United States does not recognize the authority of the court.
The court issued arrest warrants for the Sudanese leader in 2009 and 2010, accusing him of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western province of Darfur.
“Giving President Bashir a visa would be controversial. It would call the U.S. government’s bluff on Bashir’s indictment,” said Andrew Natsios, who served as U.S. special envoy to Sudan in the George W. Bush...Maybe they can get Vladimir Putin to step in. He seems to know what to do in these tricky situations.