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China’s Xi: Ukraine peace talks should resume

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French leader Emmanuel Macron has urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to help stop Russia’s war in Ukraine. “I know I can count on you to bring Russia to its senses, and bring everyone back to the negotiating table,” he told Xi in Beijing. Xi said their two countries had the “ability and responsibility” to safeguard world peace. The Associated Press has the story:

China’s Xi: Ukraine peace talks should resume

Newslooks- BEIJING (AP)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping called Thursday for peace talks over Ukraine after French President Emmanuel Macron appealed to him to “bring Russia to its senses,” but Xi gave no indication Beijing would use its leverage as Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic partner to press for a settlement.

Xi gave no sign China, which declared it had a “no limits friendship” with Moscow before last year’s attack, had changed its stance since calling for peace talks in February. But he added his personal authority by repeating the appeal at a joint event with Macron in front of reporters.

“Peace talks should resume as soon as possible,” Xi said.

French President Macron on state visit in China
Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron review troops during an official ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, April 6, 2023.

Beijing, which sees Moscow as a partner in opposing U.S. domination of global affairs, has tried to appear neutral in the conflict but has given Putin diplomatic support and repeated Russian justifications for the February 2022 attack. Xi received an effusive welcome from Putin when he visited Moscow last month, giving the isolated Russian president a political boost.

The Chinese leader said “legitimate security concerns of all parties” should be considered, a reference to Moscow’s argument that its invasion of Ukraine was justified because of the eastward expansion of NATO, the U.S.-European military alliance.

French President Emmanuel Macron, bottom left, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony held outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday, April 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, Pool)

Governments should “avoid taking actions that will further make the crisis deteriorate or even get out of control,” Xi said. He called for cooperation to reduce disruption of food and energy supplies, especially for developing countries.

During their talks earlier, Macron appealed to Xi to “bring Russia to its senses and bring everyone back to the negotiating table.”

Macron pointed to Chinese support for the United Nations Charter, which calls for respect of a country’s territorial integrity. He said Putin’s announcement that his government would deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus violated international agreements and commitments Moscow had made to Xi’s government.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and France’s President Emmanuel Macron attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

“We need to find a lasting peace,” the French president said. “I believe that this is also an important issue for China, as much as it is for France and for Europe.”

China is the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas, which helps prop up the Kremlin’s revenue in the face of Western sanctions. That increases Chinese influence, but Xi appears reluctant to jeopardize that partnership by pressuring Putin.

“China has always adhered to an objective and fair position on the issue of the Ukraine crisis,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning. “We have been an advocate of a political solution to the crisis and a promoter of peace talks.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center left, and French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, attend a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, April 6, 2023. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool Photo via AP)

Earlier, Macron said during a meeting with the ruling Communist Party’s No. 2 leader, Premier Li Qiang, that France wants to “build a common path” in dealing with “all the major conflicts” in addition to Ukraine.

Li said there was likely to be a “broad consensus” between Macron and Xi but gave no indication whether Beijing might be willing to lobby Moscow to make peace.

The meeting will “send positive signals of concerted efforts by China, France and Europe to maintain world peace and stability,” Li said.

Macron was accompanied to Beijing by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a show of European unity.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, center left, is welcomed by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, prior to a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 6, 2023. Macron said Wednesday he wants to “engage China toward a shared responsibility for peace” in Ukraine when he meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping this week.(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool)

Last week, von der Leyen warned that the European Union must be prepared to develop measures to protect trade and investment that China might exploit for security and military purposes.

Meanwhile, NATO’s 31 member countries warned Wednesday of “severe consequences” should China start sending weapons and ammunition to Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said giving lethal aid would be a “historic mistake.” He warned there would be “severe consequences” but declined to give details.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and France’s President Emmanuel Macron attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 6, 2023. Macron said Thursday he wants to forge a “common path” with China on peace in Ukraine when he meets Xi. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Mao, the Chinese spokesperson, rejected NATO criticism.

“When it comes to responsibility in Ukraine, I think the United States and military blocs such as NATO should take responsibility,” Mao said. “NATO is in no position to accuse or pressure China.”

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