Chinese President Xi Jinping will send a delegation to Ukraine to hold talks with all the parties on resolving the conflict there, after his first phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, since Russia invaded the country in February 2022, a media report said.
According to Chinese state media, Xi made the proposal during a telephone call on Wednesday with Zelenskiy, offering to help facilitate peace talks aimed at achieving a ceasefire as soon as possible, The Guardian reported.
Xi also appeared to pledge that China would remain neutral in the conflict, saying Beijing "will neither watch the fire from the other side, nor add fuel to the fire, let alone take advantage of the crisis to profit", according to China Central Television.
However, China remains Russia's top strategic ally in the midst of the conflict. Despite scepticism in Ukraine about China's overtures for negotiations, Kiev has been keen to keep communications open with Beijing, not least after Xi's recent high-profile summit in Moscow where Russia and China pledged "undying friendship".
Zelenskiy said: "I had a long and meaningful phone call with President Xi Jinping. I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine's ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations," The Guardian reported.
Zelenskiy's spokesperson Serhiy Nykyforov said on Facebook that the two had "an almost hour-long conversation".
Commenting on the call, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on that it has noted China's willingness to engage in a peace process for Ukraine.
"We note the readiness of the Chinese side to make efforts to establish a negotiation process," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, The Guardian reported.