Zelenskiy, Marcos to Boost Ties After Slamming China at Summit

(Bloomberg) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met his Philippine counterpart, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in Manila on Monday, a day after the conclusion of a security summit where the two leaders delivered statements sharply critical of China.

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The two leaders discussed a Ukraine summit which will be held in Switzerland June 15-16, and Zelenskiy underscored the importance for Southeast Asian countries to be represented there.

“I am pleased that the Philippines will participate in the summit,” he said in a post on X. Marcos’ communications office confirmed that the Philippines is joining the event, but is still finalizing details.

“We will continue to do all that we can to promote peace and to bring an end to the fighting and to come to a political resolution of your country,” Marcos told Zelenskiy during their meeting, according to the Philippine president’s communications office.

The Ukraine leader’s visit to the Philippines followed his attendance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday, where both he and Marcos delivered statements critical of China during the three-day annual defense summit.

Zelenskiy made an appeal to countries across the Asia-Pacific on Sunday to join the summit in Switzerland, which he accused China and Russia of trying to sabotage. He said Moscow is doing “everything” to disrupt the conference by using Chinese influence and its diplomats.

Marcos, for his part, criticized Beijing’s “assertive” actions in the disputed South China Sea in his speech Friday at the defense forum. The Chinese delegation responded by condemning the Southeast Asian nation’s moves to deepen military alliance with the US, saying it threatened peace and stability in the region.

China said it will continue to safeguard its sovereignty and rights, according to a statement from the foreign ministry on Monday, adding that it seeks dialogue to handle maritime conflicts. Both China and the Philippines continued to trade fresh accusations about the conduct of their security forces in disputed waters.

Zelenskiy said in a separate interview with Philippine media that he sees a lot of similarities between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s maritime dispute with Manila. “If Russia will occupy us totally, we will see this war in other continents,” he said, as he called for unity against the occupation of independent countries.

Zelenskiy and Marcos vowed to strengthen their diplomatic ties, with Kyiv planning to open an embassy in the Philippines later this year. The Ukrainian leader also asked Marcos to send Filipino mental health workers to help Ukrainian soldiers at the frontline of the crisis.

--With assistance from Clarissa Batino.

(Adds more comments from Marcos’ office, Zelenskiy throughout.)

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