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19 Jun, 2023 12:45

South African president comments on Ukraine peace mission

Cyril Ramaphosa believes delegation’s ten-point roadmap will be useful in ending hostilities between Moscow and Kiev
South African president comments on Ukraine peace mission

A delegation of seven African leaders that visited Russia and Ukraine received a positive reception from each country’s leader, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said following the group’s trip. Presidents Putin and Zelensky are willing to consider a peace proposal put forward to end the conflict, he added.

Ramaphosa, who was part of the delegation that traveled to Kiev and Saint Petersburg, described the initiative to mediate peace in Ukraine as “historic,” noting that it is the “first time African leaders have embarked on a peace mission beyond the shores of the continent.

The seven-nation diplomatic team included heads of state and representatives from South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, Uganda, Congo, and the Comoros, and met with Zelensky and Putin on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to present a ten-point roadmap designed to end ongoing hostilities.

The proposal includes calls for a de-escalation in fighting, recognition of countries’ sovereignty under the UN charter, unrestricted grain exports through the Black Sea, the release of prisoners of war, and the return of children to their countries of origin.

Following talks on Friday, Zelensky insisted that peace talks would necessitate the withdrawal of Moscow’s forces from regions Kiev considers occupied territory. Russia, on the other hand, has categorically stated that this issue is not negotiable.

During Saturday’s meeting, Putin told the African leaders that Moscow has “never refused to conduct negotiations." He said Russia is willing to engage in constructive dialogue aimed at promoting peace based on equity and recognition of the legitimate interests of all parties, and recalled that Kiev had backed out of previous negotiations in 2022.

However, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov assured reporters that the ten-point peace roadmap outlined by African leaders contains ideas that could be implemented, and that Moscow will continue its dialogue with African countries.

There are certain themes in the ideas that were outlined at the talks by the members of the delegations which can be fully implemented,” Peskov was quoted by TASS as saying.

Ramaphosa said on Monday that “one of the key achievements of the Peace Mission was the positive reception we received from both sides,” which “provides cause for optimism that the proposals will be given consideration.”

He added that Zelensky and Putin have both agreed to further engagements.

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