Turkey, Africa Begin Economic Cooperation Summit

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Heads of state and other dignitaries from African countries and Turkey started an economic cooperation summit in Istanbul on Monday.

Turkish officials expect delegations from 50 countries, including seven heads of state.

Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president accused of directing a genocide in his country, also will arrive in Istanbul for the Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit.

Al-Bashir was accused last month by the International Criminal Court prosecutor of directing genocide in Darfur, Sudan's troubled region where up to 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million displaced since 2003.

Al-Bashir has said that Sudan does not recognize the court in The Hague, Netherlands, and will never cooperate with it.

Ethnic African groups in Darfur rebelled against al-Bashir's government, accusing it of discrimination, and his regime is accused of unleashing Arab militias known as janjaweed that are blamed for atrocities against civilians.

Turkey has increased its trade volume with African nations from around $5.4 billion to $13 billion in less then three years, and is targeting $30 billion by the end of 2010.