Ukraine's Zelenskiy says meeting with China 'desirable'

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attend a joint news briefing

By Dan Peleschuk

KYIV (Reuters) -President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday he had not yet seen a Chinese plan for ending Russia's war on Ukraine but that he would welcome talks with Beijing.

China, a close Russian ally, has said it will set out its position on settling the Ukraine conflict through political means in a document that will take into account territorial integrity, sovereignty and security concerns.

Asked about prospects for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Zelenskiy told a news briefing in Kyiv: "We would like to meet with China."

"This is in the interests of Ukraine today," he told the joint briefing with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Xi, who the Wall Street Journal reported this week would meet Vladimir Putin in the coming months, is expected to deliver a "peace speech" on the anniversary of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

Zelenskiy said he had heard only "general things" about China's proposals through Ukrainian diplomats, but that it was encouraging that China was considering brokering peace.

"The more countries, especially the societies of those countries - large ones, influential ones - think about how to end the war in Ukraine while respecting our sovereignty, with a just peace, the sooner it will happen," he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said this week that Wang Yi, the top Chinese diplomat, had shared some of the main points of Beijing's proposals with him during a meeting in New York.

Kuleba said Ukraine could not draw conclusions about the plan without seeing the document, and would study it carefully when it does receive it.

Wang visited Moscow this week but did not discuss the peace plan with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when they met on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Russia has also said it welcomes China taking a more active role in efforts to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and said it valued China's "balanced approach".

Beijing's attempts to reach a peace deal and Wang's visit to Moscow have received a mixed reaction in the West, which believes Russia's increasing reliance on China make it one of the few countries able to truly influence Moscow.

(Additional reporting by Max Hunder, Editing by Timothy Heritage)