The President of the United States faces difficult decisions quite frequently, but one of President Barack Obama’s most loaded problems has to with simply granting a foreign leader a visa so he can attend the United Nations General Assembly.
The catch? The leader is Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and the International Criminal Court has charged him with directing genocide and committing war crimes.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf confirmed to The Hill Monday that President Bashir applied for a visa to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York this month. Bashir has been accused of crimes against humanity for his role in the Darfur genocide, and the ICC has a warrant out for his arrest.
Harf would not say whether or not the visa would be granted but made clear the department's displeasure at the request.
“We have the visa application right now and would condemn any potential travel by him,” Harf told reporters. “We would say that before presenting himself to U.N. headquarters, President Bashir should present himself to the ICC in The Hague to answer for the crimes of which he’s been accused.”
Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, also confirmed to BBC that D.C. had received the application, and called the move "deplorable", "cynical" and "hugely inappropriate.”
“The request puts the State Department in a tough spot as it seeks to help resolve border skirmishes between Sudan and South Sudan, a country whose creation President Obama helped bring into being in 2011. Denying Bashir a visa could embarrass the Sudanese president and hurt the administration’s mediation efforts,” according to The Hill