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regular-article-logo Sunday, 21 July 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hopeful of meeting at Swiss peace conference

The Presidents of Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Somalia joined dozens of western heads of state and government and other leaders and high-level envoys at the meeting, in hopes that Russia — which is waging war on Ukraine — could join in one day

AP/PTI Obburgen, Switzerland Published 16.06.24, 07:40 AM
Volodymyr Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky File image

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday predicted “history being made” at the Swiss-hosted conference which aims to plot out the first steps toward peace in Ukraine even though experts and critics say little substance or few big breakthroughs are expected because Russia is not attending.

The Presidents of Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Somalia joined dozens of western heads of state and government and other leaders and high-level envoys at the meeting, in hopes that Russia — which is waging war on Ukraine — could join in one day.

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In a brief statement to reporters alongside Swiss President Viola Amherd, Zelensky already sought to cast the gathering as a success, saying: “We have succeeded in bringing back to the world the idea that joint efforts can stop war and establish a just peace.”

“I believe that we will witness history being made here at the summit,” he said.

Swiss officials hosting the conference say more than 50 heads of state and government will join the gathering at the Burgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne. Some 100 delegations including European bodies and the UN will be on hand.

Who will show up — and who will not — has become one of the key stakes of a meeting that critics say will be useless without the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

As US Vice-President Kamala Harris arrived at the venue, shuttle buses rumbled up a mountain road that snaked up to the site — at times with traffic jams — with the police along the route checking journalists’s IDs and helicopters ferrying in VIPs buzzed overhead.

Meanwhile, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have dispatched their foreign ministers while key developing countries like Brazil, an observer at the event, India and South Africa will be represented at lower levels.

China, which backs Russia, is joining scores of countries that are sitting out the conference, many of whom have more pressing issues than the bloodiest conflict in far-away Europe since World War II. Beijing says any peace process needs to have the participation of both Russia and Ukraine, and has floated its own ideas for peace.

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