Saudi Arabia confirms Ukraine peace talks in Jeddah at weekend

US, China, and EU states set to be among reported 40 participants, though Russia excluded from gathering

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he hoped the Jeddah summit would be a stepping stone for further talks in the autumn. AFP
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Saudi Arabia announced on Friday that it would host national security advisers and other senior officials from a forum of countries this weekend, to try to agree principles on a peace settlement for the war in Ukraine.

Set to take place in Jeddah on August 5 and 6, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday said the meeting would feature 40 countries.

The gathering marks a “continuation of the humanitarian initiatives and efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman”, said a statement released on the official Saudi Press Agency.

It added that the kingdom “looks forward to this meeting contributing to enhancing dialogue and co-operation through exchanging views, co-ordination and discussion at the international level on ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis through diplomatic and political means”.

Among those set to attend are US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and representatives of EU countries.

While Ukraine will be participating, Russia, which invaded its neighbour in February 2022, is excluded and will only “monitor”.

On Friday, China's Foreign Ministry said its special envoy for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, would visit Jeddah for the talks.

Ukraine is eager to convince as many countries as possible to rally behind its 10-point peace plan, and analysts say Kyiv hopes to use the summit to woo countries from the Global South.

The Jeddah summit follows talks in Copenhagen in June.

Mr Zelenskyy said he hoped the forum would be a stepping stone for Ukraine to engage in further talks in the autumn.

“This week, a meeting of advisers to state leaders and representatives of the foreign ministries will take place in Jeddah,” said the Ukrainian leader.

“This is the second meeting already, and it will be attended by almost 40 states.

“As you know, the first meeting was in Denmark, in Copenhagen. The third step will be to organise a summit, a Global Peace Summit. We are working to ensure that this happens this autumn.”

Kyiv's peace plan includes Ukraine's territorial integrity being fully restored, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the protection of the country's food and energy supplies and the release of all prisoners.

Russia has launched missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian grain storage sites at its Black Sea ports in recent weeks, following the end of a grain shipment deal.

Both sides have launched attacks on oil and gas infrastructure.

Andriy Yermak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said Mr Zelenskyy was “engaging countries from the west, east, north and south,” in an attempt to build support for Ukraine.

Last year, Saudi Arabia helped broker a prisoner exchange involving almost 270 people between Ukraine and Russia.

Following mediation by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said prisoners swapped included five Britons, two Americans, a Moroccan, a Swede, and a Croat.

Updated: August 04, 2023, 7:48 PM