July 16, 2009 / 1:05 PM / 11 years ago

Uganda says Sudan's Bashir to send deputy over ICC

* Kampala says Bashir to send deputy to Uganda meeting

* Sudanese official says unaware of travel plans

KAMPALA, July 16 (Reuters) - Uganda said on Thursday Sudan’s indicted president had agreed to send a deputy to an economic meeting in Kampala after comments that the east Africa nation may act on international arrest warrants.

Sudanese state media and Ugandan newspapers said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had called Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir to apologise for comments from a junior minister that Kampala was mulling whether or not to arrest him.

Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over crimes in Sudan’s western Darfur region, was due to attend a meeting in Kampala on regional integration from July 26-28.

"The invitation still stands ... (but) we will handle it through diplomatic channels to avoid embarrassment and inconvenience to anybody," James Mugume, a senior Ugandan foreign affairs official, told Reuters by telephone.

"It’s a codeword for an agreement that President Bashir delegates another senior cabinet-ranked person. That was agreed," he said.

Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig said he had no information about the president’s travel plans to Uganda.

Mugume said Uganda was committed to the ICC, but wanted to avoid an incident following an African Union resolution not to cooperate with the warrants.

"We neither condemn nor condone the indictment until our team, chaired by former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, has done its investigations and its report," Mugume said.

Mbeki is chairing an AU panel charged with helping bring peace to Darfur, where conflict since 2003 has killed an estimated 300,000 people, according to the United Nations.

Khartoum says only 10,000 people have died.

The ICC in March indicted Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in a case that has sparked controversy across Africa, which has 30 countries signed up to the global court’s statute.

Bashir, who dismisses the ICC charges, has been in Egypt this week at a summit of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement which was expected to voice "deep concern" about the ICC’s move to indict him. (Additional reporting by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum) (Reporting by Hereward Holland; writing by Jack Kimball; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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