President Zelensky has spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion last year.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Ukrainian president said that he had a “long and meaningful phone call” with his Chinese counterpart.
He added: “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.”
I had a long and meaningful phone call with 🇨🇳 President Xi Jinping. 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.— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 26, 2023
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported that during the call Xi told Zelensky "talks and negotiation" were the "only way out" of the war and that it will send a delegation to Ukraine for the "political settlement" of the conflict.
"On the issue of the Ukraine crisis, China has always stood on the side of peace and its core position is to promote peace talks," CCTV reported Xi as saying.
According to a readout of the call, reported by CCTV, Xi said China "will neither watch the fire from the other side, nor add fuel to the fire, let alone take advantage of the crisis to profit".
"When dealing with the nuclear issue, all parties concerned should remain calm and restrained, truly focus on the future and destiny of themselves and all mankind, and jointly manage and control the crisis," Xi said.
Wednesday's telephone call was initiated by Kyiv, Beijing said. Asked during a press conference about the discussions, Yu Jun from China's foreign ministry said "the call was initiated by the Ukrainian side".
After news of the call emerged, Moscow accused Kyiv of undermining any peace attempts, saying: "The Ukrainian authorities and their Western minders have already shown their ability to mess up any peace initiatives."
Though Beijing is officially neutral in the conflict, Xi has never condemned the Russian invasion. Zelensky has said repeatedly he would be open to talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi.
In March, Xi Jinping paid a three-day visit to Moscow, and before that, there were speculations that he would hold telephone talks with Zelensky after meeting with Vladimir Putin.
At the end of March, Ukraine officially invited Xi to visit Ukraine, as Zelensky had not been able to hold a direct conversation with the Chinese leader for more than a year.
According to the newspaper Leparisien, French President Emmanuel Macron convinced Xi Jinping to hold a telephone conversation with Zelensky at the beginning of April.
The leaders of Ukraine and China spoke for the first and last time on July 13, 2021.
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