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China’s Xi 'willing' to speak to Ukraine’s Zelensky: EU’s von der Leyen

07.04.2023 11:00
The head of the European Union’s executive Commission has said that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is “willing to speak” to Ukraine’s president, as Western leaders seek to dissuade China from supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen answers questions during a press conference in Beijing, China, on Thursday, April 6, 2023.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen answers questions during a press conference in Beijing, China, on Thursday, April 6, 2023. PAP/EPA/WU HAO

The EU’s Ursula von der Leyen made the remark after a three-way meeting with China's Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron in Beijing on Thursday, The Kyiv Independent website reported.  

Von der Leyen and Macron arrived in China on Wednesday for a three-day visit designed to urge Xi not to deliver weapons to Moscow and help end the war in Ukraine, according to news outlets. 

Xi 'reiterated his willingness' to speak to Zelensky: von der Leyen

After Thursday’s talks, von der Leyen said: "It was interesting to hear that President Xi reiterated his willingness to speak" to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Reuters news agency reported. 

Xi said a conversation could happen when the "conditions and time are right," she added.

Von der Leyen stressed that the EU counted on China “not to provide any military equipment, directly or indirectly, to Russia.”

She added that “arming the aggressor would be against international law” and “would significantly harm our relationship.”

The European Commission chief urged: “As a member of the UN Security Council, there is a big responsibility, and we expect that China will play its role and promote a just peace, one that respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, one of the cornerstones of the UN Charter.”

China can ‘bring Russia to its senses’ on Ukraine: Macron

Meanwhile, France’s Macron said during a joint news conference with the Chinese president: "The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to (international) stability," according to The Kyiv Independent.

He told Xi: "I know I can count on you to bring Russia to its senses, and bring everyone back to the negotiating table," British broadcaster the BBC reported.

For his part, Xi said China and France had the "ability and responsibility" to safeguard world peace, according to the BBC.

He also said he “stood ready to issue a joint call with France” for the resumption of “peace talks as soon as possible”, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported.

Zelensky and Xi to hold talks?

Ukraine’s Zelensky has repeatedly asked Xi to meet him, most recently after the Chinese leader visited Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in March, the Reuters news agency reported. 

A French diplomatic source said that Xi was "ready" to call Zelensky, according to Reuters.

The two leaders have not spoken since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, The Kyiv Independent noted.

Ukraine ‘holding out’ in Bakhmut: officials

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops were holding out in the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut despite a “difficult” situation and Russia’s “numerical superiority,” according to officials.

Ukraine's Eastern Military Command spokesman Serhiy Cherevatyi was quoted by Reuters as saying on Friday that Ukraine controlled the situation in Bakhmut, understood Moscow's intentions, and that Russia had tactical success in some places, but was paying a high price for it.

Russia shells Ochakiv, Slovyansk

Meanwhile, at dawn, the Russian army shelled Ochakiv in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region, Ukrainian state broadcaster Suspilne reported.

Residential buildings, shops and civil infrastructure were damaged, and two people were injured, one of them seriously, according to Suspilne.

The Ukrainian state broadcaster also reported that no one was injured after the Russian military last night "fired an S-300 missile at a private house in Slovyansk, Donetsk region," according to The Guardian.

Meanwhile, "one person was injured in Bakhmut yesterday,” Suspilne said, as quoted by The Guardian.

Friday is day 408 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, The Kyiv Independent, BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, ec.europa.eu