Franklin Graham Statement Following Meetings with Sudan President Omar al-Bashir

"On Wednesday I met with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. We had a frank discussion on religious freedom, human rights, extended focus on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and the complexities of Darfur. I challenged him, in light of the pending charges by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to stand up for peace.

"Immediately after meeting with President al-Bashir, I flew to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to meet with First Vice President Salva Kiir. We openly discussed the dangers the entire country faces in light of the ICC judgment and agree that peace in Sudan is far more important than the need to arrest the president. While al-Bashir should be brought to justice, Kiir and I share grave concerns about the real and dangerous effects of the action.

"As our meeting in Juba concluded, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

"Millions of lives throughout Sudan, not just Darfur, will be at risk if the already-fragile government is destabilized and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) unravels. The already desperate situation could turn disastrous.

"I urge President Obama to appoint a full-time, special envoy to Sudan and work toward full diplomatic relations. Since the CPA was signed, there have been significant gains for peace. As unpleasant as it may be to deal with an indicted criminal, the world cannot afford to let this progress unravel. Now is a time for Christians worldwide to pray for peace in Sudan."

-30-

Franklin Graham is president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.