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Xi preparing to visit Moscow for summit with Putin

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WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS: Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to visit Moscow for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the plan.

Xi’s meeting with Putin will be part of a push for multi-party talks on peace in Ukraine and allow China to reiterate its calls that nuclear weapons not be used, the report added. Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24 last year.

Preparations for the trip are at an early stage and the timing has not been finalised, the WSJ said, adding that Xi could visit in April or in early May when Russia celebrates its World War Two victory over Germany.

China’s top diplomat Wang Yi arrived in Moscow on Tuesday as the country appears to be ramping up its diplomatic effort to push for a peace settlement in Ukraine, and just hours after Putin announced Russia was suspending its participation in a landmark nuclear arms treaty with the United States.

Wang will likely discuss Xi’s trip while he is in Moscow, WSJ said, quoting people familiar with the summit planning. Ukraine’s foreign minister expressed cautious interest on Tuesday in China’s ideas for a peace deal to end the war with Russia but warned it must respect Kyiv’s territorial integrity.

Ukraine cautious on Chinese ‘peace plan’

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels with EU and Nato leaders, Ukraine’s top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba said he had met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference. “He shared with me key elements of the Chinese peace plan,” Kuleba said.

“We are looking forward to receiving the text because this is not something that you can, you know, make your conclusions on just after hearing,” he added.

Ukraine has published a 10-point peace plan of its own, demanding the total withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory and an international tribunal to prosecute Moscow for its aggression.

Kuleba said President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government believes this blueprint remains “a comprehensive, concise and efficient way forward” and is the “top priority”.

But he said that, in one respect, the plan shared by the Chinese overlaps with Ukraine’s.

“I think there is one element that is common for Ukraine and China — and it’s not just an element, it’s a cornerstone, which is the principle of territorial integrity,” he said.

The United States has warned, in a message echoed at Kuleba’s news conference by Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, that China may be preparing to deliver Russia weapons.

Kuleba argued that, since China values the principle of the integrity of sovereign states like Ukraine, it should do nothing to help “Russia to destroy the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

At a press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said Beijing was “deeply concerned that the conflict is intensifying and even getting out of control”.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2023


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