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3 Jun, 2024 13:31

China explains snub of Zelensky ‘peace summit’

Beijing says it supports a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict, despite skipping the event in Switzerland
China explains snub of Zelensky ‘peace summit’

The Chinese government has said it will not be taking part in an upcoming Swiss-hosted conference on the Ukraine conflict, as the conditions necessary for such an event have not been met.

Beijing has repeatedly stressed that any summit on settling the fighting between Russia and Ukraine must include “three important elements,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said during a media briefing on Monday. Those terms are recognition of the event by both Moscow and Kiev, equal participation of all sides, and a fair discussion of all peace proposals.

None of the three conditions are likely to be fulfilled at the gathering, Mao explained, and therefore it would be “problematic” for China to participate in the summit – due to take place at the Burgenstock Resort near Lucerne on June 15 and 16.

The spokeswoman stressed that Beijing’s absence from the Swiss event does not mean a lack of support for peace between Russia and Ukraine. Mao went on to suggest that some countries who are sending delegations to the conference are not actually interested in ending the fighting.

China has never “fanned fire or fueled the flames” when it comes to the Ukraine hostilities, Mao stressed, while expressing hope that all sides can understand China’s stance regarding the conference.

On Sunday Ukraine’s leader, Vladimir Zelensky, lashed out at Beijing over its reluctance to attend the gathering in Switzerland, claiming that China has become “an instrument in the hands of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin” as he tries to discredit the conference.

Russia has not been invited to the summit, which is expected to address Zelensky’s so-called ‘ten-point peace plan.’ The scheme, among other things, demands a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from all territories that Ukraine considers its own, for Moscow to pay reparations, and for Russian officials to present themselves to war crimes tribunals.

Russia instantly rejected the proposal as “unacceptable” when it was first floated by Zelensky in late 2022. According to Moscow, the plan disregards the situation on the ground and is a sign of Kiev’s unwillingness to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RT last week that it was “absurd” to hold a summit on settling the conflict without Moscow’s participation. “This conference is completely without prospects,” he stressed.

According to media reports, US President Joe Biden will also not be attending the Swiss event in person, preferring a Hollywood fundraiser with actor George Clooney. Zelensky said it would “not be a particularly strong move” by Biden if he does not participate.