MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday.—AFP
MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday.—AFP

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday that Russia was open to discussing China’s proposals to end the fighting in Ukraine at the start of high-stakes talks in the Kremlin.

“We are always open to negotiations,” Putin told Xi, who was on his first visit to Moscow since the start of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine last year.

“We will certainly discuss all these issues, including your initiatives which we treat with respect, of course,” Putin said.

The summit between the Russian president and the Chinese leader comes as China seeks to portray itself as a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict.

But Washington has accused Beijing of mulling arms exports to Moscow — claims China has vociferously denied.

Shortly after landing at Moscow airport, Xi said his visit would give “new momentum” to Chinese-Russian ties. He was greeted by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Cherny­shenko on a red carpet as a military band played the two countries’ anthems.

During his initial meeting with Putin, Xi hailed “close ties” with Russia and the Russian leader said the two countries had “plenty of common objectives and tasks”. The two leaders will continue talks on Tuesday.

‘Constructive role’

They are due to discuss China’s 12-point position paper on the Ukraine conflict, which includes a call for dialogue and respect for all countries’ territorial sovereignty.

Putin has welcomed Beijing’s statements on Ukraine as being indicative of a willingness to play a “constructive role” in ending the conflict.

But Kyiv reiterated calls for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.

“We expect Beijing to use its influence on Mosc­ow to make it put an end to the aggressive war against Ukraine,” Ukra­inian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2023

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