RIYADH: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky travelled to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, Saudi state media reported, his latest visit to the Gulf kingdom which has sought to stay neutral in Ukraine’s war with Russia.

Zelensky landed in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah for the unannounced trip and was greeted by Saudi officials including the national security adviser and ambassador to Kyiv, the official Saudi Press Agency said. No details on his itinerary were immediately available.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, works closely with Moscow on oil policy and has touted its ties to both Moscow and Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, positioning itself as a possible mediator in the war.

Zelensky has travelled the world in recent weeks to rally support and attendance for a peace summit scheduled to take place in Switzerland at the weekend. He has toured not only traditional allies in the European Union but also countries in the Middle East and Asia that have closer relations with Russia.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian leader visited Singapore, the Philippines and Qatar.

Representatives from around 90 countries are expected to gather in Switzerland to discuss Kyiv’s plan to end the war. Zelensky has convinced many officials to attend after in-person visits.

Saudi Arabia has not yet confirmed whether it will take part in the summit, diplomats in the Gulf region said last week.

As Zelensky arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, Kyiv said a Russian strike on his hometown of Kryvyi Rig killed eight people and wounded two dozen more.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2024

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