Switzerland hosts President Zelenskyy and offers to host a peace summit for Ukraine

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BY JAMEY KEATEN

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Swiss President Viola Amherd said Monday, during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Bern, that her country has offered to organize a peace summit that aims to help bring an end to Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia.

“I confirmed to him that Switzerland is ready to organize a conference,” Amherd said during a joint press conference with Zelenskyy. “We have agreed that we will examine the details of the next steps in depth to ensure that the peace process is a success.”

The two presidents said the Ukrainian and Swiss teams will begin preparations for the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland as early as Tuesday. No details were provided about when or how such a summit could take place, and Russia hasn’t been involved in the process.

“This summit is intended to infuse the necessary energy into everything that has already been achieved and to determine that the end of the war must be fair, and the restoration of the strength of international law – complete,” Zelenskyy said.

Talks of a peace summit come as Ukrainian military chiefs said Monday their forces had shot down a Russian early warning and control plane and a key command center aircraft, which if confirmed would be a feat for Ukraine in the almost two-year war.

On Sunday, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, took part in Swiss-hosted talks in Davos among dozens of national envoys about Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace formula — which ultimately aims to feed into the possible peace summit.

As for who might attend, Zelenskyy said Ukraine was open “to all countries in the world that respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity … So draw conclusions about whom we invite.”

He conveyed Ukraine’s strong desire for countries from the Global South to be present.

“It is important for us to show that the whole world is against the aggression of Russia and the whole world is for a fair peace,” Zelenskyy said. “If countries truly want the war to end, they will support our plan,” but added it was an “open plan” that would welcome proposals from other countries.

Switzerland, which has long touted its neutrality, has been at pains to strike the right balance over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine that began in February 2022. The Swiss have lined up with European Union sanctions on Russian people and interests over the conflict.

Zelenskyy’s trip to Switzerland, where he also met with parliamentary leaders on Monday, includes a visit Tuesday to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the eastern town of Davos.

The meeting in Bern came hours after Amherd hosted Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang, who is also on his way to the elite gathering in Davos. It was not immediately clear whether he would meet Zelenskyy there.

Zelenskyy noted China’s “significant role in the world” and said Kyiv “would very much like China to be involved in our (peace) formula and engaged in the (peace) summit.” However, he added, “not everything depends on our will … we hope that all civilized countries will be involved in the peace summit.”

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