China’s Wang Says Time Isn’t Right to Talk Russia-Ukraine Peace

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(Bloomberg) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said conditions are not right for peace talks to end Russia’s war on Ukraine — as Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba had been seeking a weekend meeting.

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Ukraine has been pushing for a high-level summit to be held next month, though the date is likely to slip to April or May due to the lack of commitment from world leaders, according to people familiar with the plans. Switzerland has said it’s open to hosting, and its diplomats have been looking to assess interest from counterparts — including in China.

China’s involvement is widely seen as particularly important given the influence Beijing is seen as having on Russia, a key diplomatic ally.

Read More: Switzerland Asks China to Join Meeting on Ending War in Ukraine

“There are not ripe conditions in place for parties to go back to the negotiating table,” Wang said in an on-stage interview at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, without giving a reason. “China has done a lot of constructive work and we will continue to play a positive role,” he said, while emphasizing his country isn’t solely responsible for resolving the crisis.

Kuleba, who is also in Munich for the annual conference, was seeking to meet with Wang to convince him to take part in a meeting, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Diversity of Participants

A year ago, Wang told the same conference that China would soon publish a document on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. The 12-point position paper that transpired weeks later was largely met with skepticism by Western nations.

Ukraine’s allies are keen for any high-level gathering to include a diversity of participants from emerging powers including Brazil, South Africa and India.

Several countries, including China, have said they want Russia to also be at the table. Kyiv has so far rejected that suggestion until the terms of what it describes as a fair peace are widely endorsed.

National security advisers from dozens of nations have held four meetings to prepare the ground for a higher level gathering, most recently in Switzerland, but those have made limited progress and China has only attended one. A smaller group of officials also met in December, Bloomberg previously reported.

Read more: US, Allies Met Secretly With Ukraine, Global South on Peace Plan

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy’s blueprint for peace includes adherence to United Nations’ principles such as territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country and food and energy security.

--With assistance from Samy Adghirni and Daryna Krasnolutska.

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