Macron says ‘I can count on Xi to negotiate with Russia’ as Europe tries to reconnect with Beijing


Hong Kong

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he hopes to help his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping “talk” with Russia and end the war in Ukraine.

Opening the talks in Beijing, Macron said Russia had “ended decades of peace in Europe”.

China has been neutral in the conflict and has tried to portray itself as an agent of peace. But he has refused to condemn Russian aggression and has continued to deepen economic and diplomatic ties with the Kremlin over the past year, including during Xi Jinping’s state visit to Moscow last month.

Macron arrived in Beijing on Wednesday with high hopes of a major breakthrough in working with China to find solutions to end Russia’s war on Ukraine.

It is unclear whether further statements on the conflict will be made during the French president’s visit.

Ukraine is high on the agenda, but Macron’s visit also has a strong economic component, with the French president traveling to China with a delegation of around 50 business leaders, some expected to conclude or even sign new deals during the trip.

Xi said during the talks that Macron’s visit would give “new impetus” to China-EU relations, according to Chinese state media CCTV.

The Chinese president said the two countries “have the ability and responsibility to overcome differences and limitations,” citing joint efforts on climate change and African development, CCTV reported.

Macron is expected to meet Xi and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday for a trilateral meeting, in keeping with the precedent of joint diplomacy between France and the European Union with China, an Elysée source said.

Europe and China are seeking ways to reconnect after three years of strict pandemic travel controls in China and a deterioration in ties over a range of issues, including China’s defense rights and its stance on the war in Ukraine.

On Thursday morning, Macron met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine, according to a statement from the Elysée Palace.

“The prime minister and the president of the republic discussed the conflict in Ukraine,” the report said, and Macron also held talks with Zhao Leji, chairman of the Chinese Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, during which “he paid attention to this issue. Impact of the war in Ukraine on global security and strategic balance.

Before the visit, von der Leyen promised that Ukraine would be an “important topic” of his meetings with Chinese leaders. He and Macron spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi in recent days before their trip.

A loosely worded proposal for a “political solution” to the war announced by Beijing earlier this year was met with skepticism by European leaders, including von der Leyen, amid criticism that some of the proposals – such as a ceasefire – favored Russia.

Nevertheless, Macron remained optimistic about working with China to achieve peace.

Speaking to members of the French community in Beijing on Wednesday, Macron said China could play a “leading role” in the conflict in Ukraine because of its close ties with Russia. He said that it would be wrong to allow Russia to conduct an exclusive dialogue with China on the way to peace in Ukraine.

Ahead of his visit, an Elysée source told reporters last week that Macron had come to China not to question “China’s red lines, namely the refusal to accuse Russia,” but to find ways to make initiatives that would benefit the Ukrainian people. then make a way to determine the solution of this war.

The latest example of China’s role as a mediator was on display in Beijing when the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran signed a joint statement to restore bilateral ties after seven years. , following a landmark China-brokered deal last month.

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