Riyadh: Sudan President Omar Hassan Al Bashir arrived in Jeddah yesterday to perform Umrah.

Al Bashir was received at Jeddah's King Abdul Aziz International Airport by Jeddah Governor Prince Mishal Bin Abdul Aziz.

A Saudi foreign ministry official said it was a private visit, noting that Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz and many top officials were in London for the G20 meeting of major economic powers.

Al Bashir arrived from Doha where he attended the Arab League summit, which ended with a condemnation of his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 4 for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Speaking to Gulf News, Abdul Hafez Ebrahim, Sudanese ambassador to the Kingdom, said that Al Bashir's visit is in the framework of the president's efforts to assert that the ICC's decision would not turn him away from discharging responsibilities within Sudan and outside.

"We can't forget that Al Bashir's visit to Saudi Arabia is the fifth visit to a foreign state since the ICC issued an arrest warrant against him on March 4 accusing him of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's Darfur region.

"The president will continue this mission by paying visits to other countries also," he said, adding that the schedule of the visits will be announced soon.

The ambassador appreciated the unwavering position taken by the Saudi Arabian leadership against the verdict of ICC and its unflinching support to Sudan in this hour of need.

It is noteworthy that Al Bashir refuted the allegations against him by the UN court. In a lengthy interview with Venezuelan television, he explained the actual situation in the restive western region of Darfur and the forces that are undermining stability in his country. Al Bashir said that he has been targeted by the Western powers because of the position his government took against the US invasion of Iraq, atrocities of Israel in Palestine, and attacks on Afghanistan.

He also lauded the position taken by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on the issue. Chavez criticised the arrest warrant and said former US president George W. Bush should be jailed instead.