Xi, Zelensky hold first phone call after Beijing’s push to act as peacemaker

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Kyiv: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Chinese President Xi Jinping have spoken by telephone in a long-awaited move after Beijing said it wanted to act as peace mediator in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Zelensky said on Twitter that the call was “long and meaningful” and he hoped that it would give impetus to relations with Beijing.

“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.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping.Credit: AP

Chinese state media also reported on the call, saying China would send special representatives to Ukraine and hold talks with all parties on resolving the crisis there.

It said Xi told Zelensky in the phone call that China would focus on promoting peace talks, and make efforts for a ceasefire as soon as possible.

Xi said in early April that he was willing to speak with Zelensky after the latter had repeatedly asked Xi to meet him, including after the Chinese leader visited Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last month.

China has tried to appear neutral in the war, but refused to criticise Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Xi’s government released a peace proposal in February and called for a cease-fire and peace talks. The Chinese leader and Putinissued a joint statement before the February 2020 invasion saying their governments had a “no-limits friendship”.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday after the phone call that it noted China’s willingness to engage in a peace process for Ukraine.

“We note the readiness of the Chinese side to make efforts to establish a negotiation process,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

A Chinese foreign ministry official said the talks between Zelensky and Xi showed China’s objective and impartial position on international affairs, and its sense of responsibility as a major country.

“What China has done to help resolve the Ukraine crisis has been above board”, said Yu Jun, deputy head of the foreign ministry’s Eurasian department.


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