Sudan's Omar al-Bashir meets China President Hu Jintao

Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Chinese President Hu Jintao, Great Hall of the People, Beijing, 29 June 2011 China has welcomed its trading partner, and war crimes suspect, Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir

Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes, has met Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The two leaders reviewed China's military honour guard at the Great Hall of the People before holding talks.

Beijing is a major economic partner for Sudan; it buys more than half the oil produced by Khartoum.

But China is worried about its investments, with South Sudan is set to become independent next month.

Serious clashes in the border areas, which are home to Sudan's oil industry, have sparked fears of a wider conflict.

Beijing has close contacts with both sides and has been pressing them to end the violence.

'Friendly relations'

Mr Bashir greeted Mr Hu as a "friend and brother".

The meeting was rescheduled from Monday after Mr Bashir's arrival was delayed by a day without a full explanation.

Mr Hu welcomes the Sudanese leader adding that he hoped talks between the two countries would strengthen their "traditionally friendly relations".

Oil ministers from both countries also held talks, with the head of China's National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signing an agreement with Sudan's minister of state for oil to "deepen co-operation". No details were given.

China extended the invitation to President Bashir despite an arrest warrant issued by the ICC. Mr Bashir is accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide over alleged atrocities in the Darfur region.

He denies the charges.

China is not a signatory to the ICC treaty and has expressed concerns that the arrest warrant could further destabilise the region.

Human Rights Watch described Mr Bashir's trip as "an affront to victims of heinous crimes committed in Darfur".

Amnesty International said if China did not arrest Mr Bashir, the country would become a "safehaven for alleged perpetrators of genocide".

Since the ICC issued its arrest warrant, Mr Bashir has visited countries including Eritrea, Egypt, Libya and Qatar - none of whom are signed up to the ICC.

He also visited Kenya, which decided not to detain him despite being a signatory.

The treaty obliges signatories to detain anyone wanted by the court.

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