23 February 2024 3:42 PM
Xi tells Zelensky 'China has always stood on the side of peace' during first call since invasion

President Xi Jinping has insisted that China is neutral and has ‘always stood on the side of peace’ in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in his first phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky since the invasion began.

The nearly one-hour discussion, which reportedly included Xi advocating for peace negotiations, was met by Russian accusations that Ukraine was undermining efforts to end the fighting.

The Chinese leader has come under increased pressure from Western nations to step in and mediate in recent months, and has now said his country plans to send a peace envoy to Ukraine to help facilitate talks.

During the call – which was initiated by Kyiv – Xi told Zelensky that ‘talks and negotiation’ were the ‘only way out’ of the war, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

Beijing has refused to condemn Russian aggression since the invasion last year, and Xi has been criticised for his close ties with Vladimir Putin, who he met with during a friendly visit to Moscow last month in his first overseas trip since reelection. 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping via phone line, in a call initiated by Kyiv

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President Xi Jinping has insisted that China is neutral and has ‘always stood on the side of peace’ in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine

Zelensky has repeatedly said that he would be open to talks with his Chinese counterpart, and Wednesday’s telephone call ‘was initiated by the Ukrainian side’, Yu Jun from China’s foreign ministry told a press conference. 

‘On the issue of the Ukraine crisis, China has always stood on the side of peace and its core position is to promote peace talks,’ CCTV reported Xi as saying. 

According to a readout of the call, Xi said China ‘will neither watch the fire from the other side, nor add fuel to the fire, let alone take advantage of the crisis to profit’.

‘When dealing with the nuclear issue, all parties concerned should remain calm and restrained, truly focus on the future and destiny of themselves and all mankind, and jointly manage and control the crisis,’ Xi said.

‘I had a long and meaningful phone call with President Xi Jinping,’ Zelensky said on Twitter.

‘I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations,’ he wrote.

Zelensky’s spokesman Sergiy Nykyforov said on Facebook that the two leaders had ‘an almost one-hour-long telephone conversation’.

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Xi has been criticised for his close ties with Vladimir Putin, who he met with during a friendly visit to Moscow last month, his first overseas trip since reelection

Chinese media also reported that Xi had told Zelensky that it would send a delegation and a ‘special representative’ of its government to Ukraine with the aim of finding a ‘political settlement’ to the conflict. 

A government statement reported by state TV gave no indication whether the Chinese envoy would visit Russia.

‘China will send a special representative of the Chinese government on Eurasian affairs to Ukraine and other countries to conduct in-depth communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis,’ the statement said.

It comes after a 12-point ‘position paper’ was published by China in February, and was seen by many Western governments as skewed towards Russia.

A friendly Moscow visit in March by Xi to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin also led to widespread criticism, with many viewing it as evidence that China was not the impartial observer it claims to be.

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A friendly Moscow visit in March by Xi to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin led to widespread criticism

The Chinese leader’s Moscow visit – during which Xi said ties with Russia were entering ‘a new era’ – was viewed as a coup for Putin.

‘I am sure that Russian-Chinese cooperation has truly unlimited possibilities and prospects,’ Putin said following the talks, where he toasted the ‘prosperity’ of Russian and Chinese people and highlighted the ‘special nature’ of the relationship between the two countries.

Putin called the talks with Xi ‘meaningful and frank’ and said that Russia, which has been largely cut out of European markets because of sanctions, would be able to meet China’s ‘growing demand’ for energy.

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12017067/Xi-tells-Zelensky-China-stood-peace-call-invasion.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270

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