Sudan Starts Talks for Peace in Darfur

Sudan's U.N. ambassador says the government will pursue lasting peace in Darfur even if the International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir for his alleged role in atrocities in the western province.

Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that the government is focused on negotiations with one of the two main rebel groups in Darfur to end the six-year conflict. The talks are to start Tuesday in Qatar.

The International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, is expected to announce its decision shortly on whether to seek al-Bashir's arrest.

Mohamed said an arrest warrant will be an insult to justice because it will be politically motivated, aimed at regime change in Sudan.

He said the African Union is already starting talks at the United Nations to get Security Council support for a resolution that would delay action on a warrant for a year if one is issued.

Earlier, the U.N. said a helicopter delivering food for the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur was fired at by unknown assailants but no casualties were reported.

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said the attack took place Monday about 43 miles southwest of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.

She said the Mi8 helicopter returned safely to El Fasher with a damaged windscreen.