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EU chief says China's Xi willing to speak with Zelensky when 'conditions and time are right'

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 6, 2023 6:33 PM 3 min read
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gestures as she speaks at a press conference at the European Delegation on April 6, 2023 in Beijing, China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Chinese leader Xi Jinping "reiterated his willingness to speak" with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on April 6, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after her talks with Xi.

Xi added the conversation could happen when "conditions and time are right," according to von der Leyen, cited by Reuters.

Zelensky repeatedly said he wanted to talk to China's Xi, inviting him to visit Ukraine days after the Chinese president traveled to Moscow for a meeting with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in late March. Zelensky and Xi haven't spoken since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion last year.

During a three-day visit to China, which started on April 5, von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron are trying to talk Xi out of supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine amid reports of Beijing considering sending lethal aid to Moscow.

"Arming the aggressor is a clear violation of international law," von der Leyen said at a news conference following the negotiations. "This would indeed significantly harm the relationship between the EU and China."

Stoltenberg: China’s provision of lethal aid to Russia would be ‘historic mistake’
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg cautioned China against supplying Russia with lethal weaponry, saying the move would be a “historic mistake with profound implications,” Euronews reported on April 5.

The European leaders' visit to China has also aimed to persuade Xi to use his influence on Putin to help peace efforts in Ukraine.

"The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to (international) stability," Macron told Xi, according to Reuters." I know I can count on you to bring Russia back to its senses and everyone back to the negotiating table."

China released a 12-point "peace plan" on the one-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion. The plan calls on all parties to respect the sovereignty of all nations, safeguard nuclear facilities, facilitate grain exports, and protect civilians and prisoners of war but falls short of explicitly calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

China has so far refused to condemn Russia's aggression against Ukraine and annexation of Ukrainian territories, which is at odds with respect for international law and sovereignty outlined in the plan.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he did not consider China's proposal a peace plan, adding that the document included respect for international law, which already made it possible to work with China.

China’s ambassador to EU: ‘No limit’ friendship with Moscow ‘nothing but rhetoric’
China’s Ambassador to the European Union Fu Cong downplayed the Russo-Chinese partnership in an interview with the New York Times on April 5.
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