Beijing: Visiting French President Emmanuel Macron has asked his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping “to bring Russia to its senses” in an effort to end the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to media reports.
Macron arrived in Beijing on Wednesday on his state-visit to China with high expectations for a possible breakthrough on working with the Asian giant to find solutions to end the war, reports CNN.
While Ukraine tops the agenda, Macron’s trip also has a strong economic component, with the President being accompanied by a delegation of some 50 business leaders, with some expected to finalise or even sign new deals during the trip.
He is also joined by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
Macron and Xi engaged in closed-door talks on Thursday, which officials from the two nations described as being “frank” and “friendly”, the BBC reported.
Later in the day, the two Presidents joint addressed the media at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In his opening statement, Macron told Xi: “I know I can count on you to bring Russia to its senses, and bring everyone back to the negotiating table.”
He went on to say Russia had “put an end to decades of peace in Europe” and that finding a “lasting peace” that respected internationally recognized borders was “an important issue for China, as much as it is for France and for Europe”.
“We can’t have a safe and stable Europe,” as long as Ukraine remained occupied, Macron said,adding that it was “unacceptable” that a member of the UN Security Council had violated the organisation’s charter.
On his part, the Chinese leader emphasised his country’s position on the Ukraine issue which is “consistent and clear”, Xinhua news agency reported.
“It is essentially about facilitating peace talks and political settlement. There is no panacea for defusing the crisis.”
Xi said it requires all parties to do their share and create conditions for ceasefire and peace talks through a buildup of trust and added “China supports Europe in playing its role in the political settlement of the crisis”.
He also said that peace talks should resume as soon as possible and urged the international community to “stay rational, exercise restraint, and avoid taking actions that might cause the crisis to further deteriorate or even spiral out of control”.
The Chinese leader reiterated that “nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought”, as well as opposed the “use of biological weapons under any circumstances”.
“China is ready to stay in touch with France and play a constructive role in the political settlement of the crisis,” the President added.
Since the war began in February 2022, China has claimed neutrality and attempted to frame itself as an agent of peace.
It has also released its own peace plan which Western nations have been generally dismissive of, saying it sides too much with Russia.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed interest in it and called for direct talks with Xi, who is yet to publicly respond.
Macron’s trip, which comes four years since his last visit, marks the most politically significant interaction Xi has had with a Western leader since he met US President Joe Biden at the G20 summit in Bali last November.
Macron will continues his state visit on Friday with a trip to China’s southern commercial hub of Guangzhou, where he is expected to dine with Xi.
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