China envoy sees 'many difficulties' preventing Ukraine peace talks

June 03, 2023 02:13 am | Updated 02:13 am IST - Beijing

China's special envoy for Eurasian affairs said on Friday there remained "many difficulties" ahead before Ukraine and Russia can sit down for peace talks on ending the war.

Speaking to journalists in Beijing following a tour of Europe that saw him visit Moscow and Kyiv, Li Hui said he believed "all parties support a political settlement" of the war.

"There are currently many difficulties faced by the various parties in sitting down and engaging in talks," he said.

But, he added, those fighting the war are "not without points of consensus".

"The two sides have not fully shut the door on peace talks," Li insisted.

He also laid blame for the conflict on the West, which has sent arms to Ukraine in a bid to assist it in its fight against the Russian offensive.

"If we really want to stop the war, save lives and achieve peace, we should stop sending weapons to the battlefield," Li said.

"The painful lessons of how the Ukraine crisis developed to its current state merit deep reflection by all parties," he added.

"In essence, the Ukraine crisis is the massive outbreak of contradictions in European security governance."

Li last month toured a host of European capitals as Beijing seeks to play a mediating role in Russia's war in Ukraine.

And on Friday he suggested Beijing could send another delegation to the region, though he did not give a concrete date or say where such a group might go.

"This was the first time, but it is not the last time," he said.

China says it is a neutral party in the conflict, but it has been criticised for refusing to condemn Moscow for its offensive, and its close strategic partnership with Russia.

In February, Beijing released a paper calling for a "political settlement" to the conflict, which Western countries warned could enable Russia to hold much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine.

During a March summit in Moscow, Chinese leader Xi Jinping invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Beijing and the two leaders declared that ties were "entering a new era".

Analysts say China holds the upper hand in the relationship with Russia, and that its sway is growing as Moscow's international isolation deepens.

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