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18 May, 2024 10:33

Biden currently not scheduled to attend Zelensky’s ‘peace conference’

Russia hasn’t been invited to the Swiss summit, which is set to focus on Kiev’s plan for ending the conflict
Biden currently not scheduled to attend Zelensky’s ‘peace conference’

A Swiss-hosted conference on the Ukraine conflict, set for next month, is not on US President Joe Biden’s event schedule, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has told reporters.

More than 160 countries have been invited to take part in the summit, which is set to take place on June 15-16 at the Burgenstock Resort near Lucerne. Russia, however, isn’t among them.

“I don’t have anything on his schedule to speak to in that regard,” Kirby said during a press briefing on Friday, when asked whether Biden plans to attend the event, which is expected to revolve around Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s proposed roadmap for ending the conflict with Russia.

Zelensky’s ‘peace plan’ implies a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from all territories Ukraine considers its own, for Moscow to pay reparations, and for a war crimes tribunal. Russia has dismissed the proposal as “unrealistic” and a sign of Kiev being reluctant to seek a diplomatic solution to the hostilities.

Earlier this week, Swiss President Viola Amherd said the summit has already drawn delegations from more than 50 countries. Amherd, who in January agreed to host the summit at Zelensky’s behest, added that Switzerland wants to persuade China and more countries from the Global South to sign up.

Beijing, which previously stressed that talks on a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine conflict must inevitably involve Russia, has yet to confirm whether it will send a delegation. Brazilian President Lula da Silva said he doesn’t see much point in the meeting unless both parties to the conflict attend the event, indicating that he will not participate, CNN Brazil reported on Thursday. His South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa has also decided to skip the summit.

Moscow previously said Switzerland is unfit to help mediate peace, calling the country “openly hostile” because it has implemented EU sanctions against Russia, which may signal how Swiss interests are beginning to align with those of Washington and its allies with regards to Moscow.

Speaking to journalists on Friday, President Vladimir Putin reiterated that Russia was ready for talks. He emphasized that Moscow was constantly being reproached, but hasn’t been asked to attend the conference. “They want to gather as many nations as possible, convince everyone that the best proposal is the terms of the Ukrainian side, and then send it to us in the form of an ultimatum,” he said of the upcoming event.