French President Emmanuel Macron has urged his Chinese counterpart to “bring Russia to its senses” as the two met in Beijing for a series of talks on Thursday.
The two leaders were joined by European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen as Ukraine’s Western allies seek to apply pressure on Vladimir Putin through his most important partner.
“The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to [international] stability,” President Marcon told his counterpart.
“I know I can count on you to bring Russia to its senses, and bring everyone back to the negotiating table.”
In response, President Xi said their two nations had the “ability and responsibility” to uphold world peace.
“China advocates for peace talks and seeks a political solution,” he said, adding his country “stood ready to issue a joint call with France” to resume peace talks “as soon as possible.”
President Xi also called on the international community to “refrain from any action that would lead to further deterioration of the crisis or even to it getting out of control.”
China has sought to position itself as a potential mediator for the conflict, releasing a 12-point peace plan in February and rebuffing criticisms of its impartiality levelled by Western leaders who say it is too aligned with Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed cautious optimism over the plan, but his request to meet with President Xi has so far been publicly unanswered.
This seems unlikely to change in the near-term, with China’s President making no acknowledgement of President Zelensky’s request in his conference with President Macron.
Ms Von der Leyen indicated President Xi had expressed “willingness” to speak with Ukraine’s leader behind closed doors, but she said he would only do so when he perceived “the conditions and timing are right.”
She added that her expectation was for China to promote a “just peace,” saying she stood “firmly” behind President Zelensky’s peace plan which calls for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops.
Responding to her comments, and those of President Macron, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia at present had “no choice” but to continue with the war despite China holding “a very effective and commanding potential for mediation.”
“The situation with Ukraine is complex, so far there are no prospects for a peaceful settlement,” he said.
As well as the war, President Macron was keen to discuss trade with China. He brought a large business delegation along with him which include top executives from plane manufacturer Airbus, luxury group LVMH, and nuclear energy producer EDF.
Speaking to press shortly after arriving, President Macron said the EU should reject what he claimed some described as an “inescapable spiral” of tensions between China and the West.
He also met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, the man appointed by President Xi to oversee a reversal in the country’s economic fortunes, who has held numerous meetings with key international investors over the last month.
Ms Von der Leyen also met with Chinese leaders to discuss trade, but took a harder stance when it came to relations.
“Both Europe and China have benefited immensely from this relationship, however, EU-China relations have become more complex in the recent years and it is important that we discuss together all the aspects of our relations today,” she said.
News Source: www.skynews.com.au