French President Emmanuel Macron has declared that he will visit China sometime in April to seek the Chinese government’s help with ending Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The announcement on Saturday came after China published a 12-point position paper that called for a ceasefire and a ‘political settlement’ to end the year-long conflict.
Macron, speaking on the sidelines of an agricultural show in Paris, said he would visit China in ‘early April’.
‘The fact that China is engaging in peace efforts is a good thing,’ the French leader said, stressing that peace was only possible if ‘Russian aggression was halted, troops withdrawn, and the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine and its people was respected’.
‘China must help us put pressure on Russia so that it never uses chemical or nuclear weapons … and that it stops its aggression as a precondition for talks,’ he added.
Beijing has sought to position itself as a neutral party on the conflict, even as it has maintained close ties with Russia and helped scuttle a joint statement condemning the war at a G20 gathering in India.
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The Chinese position paper, published on the anniversary of the conflict, said war benefits no one and urged all parties to “support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible”.
Released by the foreign ministry, the plan urges an end to Western sanctions against Russia, the establishment of humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians and steps to ensure the export of grain after disruptions caused global food prices to spike last year.
It also made clear its opposition to the use and threat of deploying nuclear weapons after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to use Moscow’s atomic arsenal in the conflict.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed China’s efforts on Friday, saying Kyiv needed to cooperate with Beijing to put an end to the war.
‘China started talking about Ukraine, and that’s not bad,” Zelenskyy said. “It seems to me that there is respect for our territorial integrity, security issues.’
‘We need to work with China on this point. … Our task is to unite everyone in order to isolate one,’ he added.
The Ukrainian leader also expressed hopes to meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, calling it ‘important for world security’.
But some of Ukraine’s allies have expressed scepticism at China’s commitment to brokering peace, nodding to Beijing’s close ties to Moscow.