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Wanted Bashir 'drops Uganda trip'

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has cancelled plans to travel to Uganda, a Ugandan official says, following speculation he could be arrested.

Mr Bashir, wanted on an international arrest warrant for war crimes, had been invited to a development summit.

But a Ugandan minister's suggestion he could be arrested, followed by a retraction, made the trip less likely.

Mr Bashir has managed to visit several African countries despite the warrant for his arrest, issued in March.

But unlike those countries, Uganda is a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued the warrant for Mr Bashir's arrest.

Prosecutors accuse him of organising attacks on civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan.

'Avoiding embarrassment'

But the African Union, of which Uganda is a member, has decided not to honour the warrant.

Ugandan foreign affairs official James Mugume told Reuters that Uganda was committed to the ICC, but wanted to avoid an incident.

He said the invitation for Mr Bashir to attend the Smart Partnership International Dialogue meeting still stood.

"We will handle it through diplomatic channels to avoid embarrassment and inconvenience to anybody," he said.

On Monday Uganda's state Minister for International Affairs Henry Oryem Okello told the press that Mr Bashir faced arrest in Uganda.

But on Wednesday Sudan's state-owned Suna news agency reported that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had telephoned Mr Bashir to apologise and distance his government from Mr Okello's claims.

President Museveni said Mr Okello was not mandated to speak on behalf of the government on the issue.

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