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Zelensky urges Arab leaders to support Ukraine 'despite Russia's influence'
At a summit of Arab countries in Saudi Arabia, President Volodymyr Zelensky called on their leaders to support Ukraine "no matter how hard the Russians try to influence."
"I hope that most of us are here for the sake of peace and justice," Zelensky said on May 19 at the Arab League summit. "Even if there are people here at the summit who have a different view on the war, on our land, calling it a conflict, I am sure we can all be united in saving people from the cages of Russian prisons."
"Unfortunately, there are some in the world, and here among you, who turn a blind eye to those cages and illegal annexations," he added.
According to CNN, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended the event for the first time in a decade. Ukraine cut diplomatic ties with Syria in June last year after Damascus recognized the Russian-occupied areas of eastern Ukraine as independent states.
Zelensky arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, together with Mustafa Dzhemilev, a representative of the predominantly-Muslim Crimean Tatars and the former chair of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis.
"For centuries, the Crimean Tatars have been, and should remain, an integral and strong part of the Muslim community of the world," Ukraine's president told his counterparts. "But Crimea was the first to suffer from the Russian occupation. And until now, most of those who are subjected to repression in the occupied Crimea are Muslims."
Zelensky also met with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as top officials of the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, and Iraq.
During bilateral talks with bin Salman, Zelensky reportedly outlined the 10-point peace formula and expressed interest in continuing joint efforts with Saudi Arabia to release prisoners of war.
In September last year, Saudi Arabia helped to release POWs from the U.S., Sweden, Croatia, Morocco, and the U.K., who had fought for Ukraine and were captured by Russia.