China urges Ukraine, Russia to restart peace talks 'as soon as possible'

AFP , Thursday 16 Mar 2023

China's foreign minister on Thursday urged Kyiv and Moscow to restart peace talks "as soon as possible", while Kyiv said the call also raised the importance of Ukraine's territorial integrity.

File photo: Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire a mortar on a front line in Kharkiv region. Reuters


Beijing "hopes that all parties will keep calm, exercise restraint, resume peace talks as soon as possible and return to the track of political settlement", Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call.

The call was the first official talks between the pair since the Chinese foreign minister took office in December.

"China is concerned that the crisis could escalate and get out of control," Qin said.

"China hopes that Ukraine and Russia retain hope for dialogue and negotiation," he added.

China has been criticised by Western countries for failing to condemn Moscow's invasion of its European neighbour, and last month strongly denied US claims that it was mulling arms shipments to support Russia's war.

Kuleba summed up the ministers' call on Twitter, saying it included discussion of "the significance of the principle of territorial integrity", without giving details.

Beijing last month published a position paper on Moscow's war in Ukraine, calling for dialogue and seeking to position itself as a neutral mediator.

Qin reiterated Thursday his support for that proposal, saying Beijing had "upheld an objective and just position on the Ukrainian issue, committed itself to promoting peace talks and called on the international community to create conditions for peace talks."

Kuleba said that while speaking to Qin, he underscored the importance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's proposals "for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine".

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