BEIJING (AP) — China has brushed aside a controversy surrounding a visit by Sudan’s president, who is accused by an international court of war crimes, and says he will be warmly welcomed.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday that President Omar al-Bashir has been welcomed in many countries in recent years and would also be during his state visit to China.

China is a major economic partner for Sudan, and Beijing extended the invitation to al-Bashir despite an international warrant accusing him of war crimes during Sudan’s civil war.

China is not a member of the International Criminal Court, and Hong said Beijing reserves its opinion on the court’s prosecution of al-Bashir.

Al-Bashir is to meet with President Hu Jintao on Wednesday.