Zelensky in Philippines to promote peace summit

Zelensky in Philippines to promote peace summit

Zelensky in Philippines to promote peace summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was in the Philippines on Monday in a rare Asian trip to urge regional leaders to attend a Swiss-organized global peace summit on the war in Ukraine that he accuses Russia, with China’s help, of trying to undermine.

Zelensky arrived unannounced and under heavy security in Manila late June 2 after speaking over the weekend at the Shangri-La defense forum in Singapore. He was given a red-carpet welcome with military honors on Monday at the presidential palace before meeting with Marcos.

In a recording released by the administration, Zelensky seemed to indicate Marcos accepted the invitation, though it wasn't clear if the Filipino leader agreed to personally attend the peace summit in Switzerland or to send a representative.

“I’m happy to hear today from you that you’ll participate in our peace steps,” Zelensky told Marcos. “It’s a very strong signal.”

Ukraine, Zelensky said, will also open an embassy in Manila, a decision Marcos welcomed as it would help facilitate more assistance to the war-ravaged nation.

“We continue to do all that we can to promote peace and to bring an end to the fighting,” Marcos said.

Zelensky had planned but failed to meet with Marcos on the sidelines of the annual defense gathering in Singapore and decided to fly to Manila to personally invite Marcos to attend the summit in Switzerland.

Both leaders spoke critically of China at the Singapore forum, which was attended by top defense and government officials from around the world, including from Washington and Beijing. The talks were held amid the raging wars in Gaza and Ukraine as well as growing tensions and rivalry for influence between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific region.

At a news conference in Singapore on June 2, Zelensky accused China of helping Russia to disrupt the Swiss-organized peace summit by pressuring other countries and their leaders not to attend the talks.

“Russia, using Chinese influence in the region, using Chinese diplomats also, does everything to disrupt the peace summit,” he said without elaborating.

China on Monday denied the accusations.

The Foreign Ministry said that "China's position is open and transparent, and there is absolutely no instance of us putting pressure on other countries."

"On peace talks, China's position is fair and just. It does not target any third country, and of course is not aimed at Switzerland's hosting of this summit for peace," spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing.

China "believes that all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the crisis should be supported," she added.

Switzerland had been hoping China would attend the peace conference in mid-June, but Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning signaled Friday that that was unlikely.