Ukraine peace talks to be held in Saudi Arabia on August 5

Previous discussions, excluding Russia, were held in Copenhagen in June

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy travelled to Saudi Arabia in May to attend the Arab League summit held in Jeddah. SPA / EPA
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Saudi Arabia will host a second round of Ukraine peace talks on August 5, EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali told The National on Monday.

Senior EU officials will attend the meeting with about 40 other country representatives, said the official. It comes after a first round of peace talks in Copenhagen in June.

“This meeting will provide an opportunity for further exchanges with global partners and Ukraine on the Ukraine’s Peace Formula, in preparation for an upcoming Global Peace Summit,” Ms Massrali said in an email.

A global summit is expected by the end of the year, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on Sunday.

“Any initiative for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine must be based on full respect for its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders,” added Ms Massrali.

A Saudi Foreign Affairs Ministry source previously told The National that the talks are likely to be held in Jeddah.

Several countries have reportedly confirmed their attendance, including South Africa and Poland, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported details of the meeting on Saturday.

The WSJ said the meeting would take place over two days, on August 5 and August 6.

A Dutch Foreign Ministry representative told The National that they would also attend and welcomed Ukraine's “international outreach” to discuss Mr Zelenskyy's 10-point peace plan announced in December.

“It is up to Ukraine to negotiate their peace and decide over possible outcomes,” they said of the meeting, which excludes Russia.

The choice of Saudi Arabia is widely viewed as an attempt by Ukraine and its western supporters to woo the global South.

Western officials reportedly hope that Saudi Arabia will convince China to participate in the talks. China did not participate in the previous round of talks in Denmark.

Mr Zelenskyy's last visit to Saudi Arabia was during a recent Arab League summit when he attempted to rally Arab support for Ukraine following Russia's invasion last year.

The EU's confirmation of attendance came as the deputy secretary general of the bloc's external action service, Enrique Mora, hosted Rayed Krimly, the head of policy planning at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Brussels.

“Excellent discussion today in Brussels with Dr Rayed Krimly on issues of common interest,” tweeted Mr Mora.

Challenging times require strong partnerships. The EU is committed to further expand its partnership with Saudi Arabia to tackle challenges in the region and beyond.”

Updated: July 31, 2023, 6:20 PM