Ukraine summit paves way for peace talks with Russia

Published June 17, 2024
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left), with presidents of Switzerland, Ukraine, Chile and Canada, addresses the closing session.—AFP
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left), with presidents of Switzerland, Ukraine, Chile and Canada, addresses the closing session.—AFP

BURGENSTOCK: Leaders and top officials from more than 90 states meeting for a summit on peace in Ukraine agreed on Sunday that Kyiv should enter dialogue with Russia on ending the war, while strongly supporting Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity.

“We believe that reaching peace requires the involvement of and dialogue between all parties,” stated a final communique, supported by the vast majority of the countries that attended the two-day summit at the Burgenstock complex, dedicated to resolving the largest European conflict since World War II.

The declaration also urged a full exchange of prisoners of war and the return of deported children, besides reaffirming a commitment to the “territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine”.

India, Saudi Arabia and the UAE did not back the document at the summit, snubbed by Russia and its ally China.

Final declaration fails to win Saudi, Indian and UAE support

After world leaders stood together to offer their support, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky voiced hope of garnering international agreement around a proposal to end the war that could eventually be presented to Moscow.

The summit focused on nuclear safety, food security, and freedom of navigation on the Black Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Friday demanded Kyiv’s surrender as a basis for peace talks. His call for Ukraine to withdraw from the south and east of the country were widely dismissed at the summit, tho­ugh Kremlin insisted on Sunday that Ukraine “refl­ect” on Putin’s demands, considering the ground situation.

Canadian Prime Minis­ter Justin Trudeau in his final address said: “When a just and sustainable pea­ce comes, we will all be there to help Ukraine rebuild. The people who lost their lives, the families destr­oyed, they won’t be able to bring them back. That’s the most painful consequence of war: the hum­an suffering. This illegal war by Russia needs to end.”

But minds also turned to a potential second summit.

Swiss President Viola Amherd said: “One key question remains: how and when can Russia be included in the process? We have heard it in many of your statements: a lasting solution must involve both parties,” she said.

Zelensky did not say whether he was prepared to engage with Putin directly in talks to end the conflict.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2024

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