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Ukrainian President Zelenskyj expressed disappointment that “some heads of state and government” may not participate in peace talks

SINGAPORE: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed disappointment on Sunday that “some leaders” had not committed to a peace summit after China signaled that Xi Jinping would not attend and Joe Biden had not yet given his commitment.

Zelensky made these remarks at a security forum in Singapore, where he called for more military aid to Ukraine, which is increasingly retreating from Russian troops.

Ukraine is also trying to attract more participants to a peace conference in Switzerland this month, where it hopes to gain broad international support for its vision of the conditions needed to end Russia’s war.

Zelensky said more than 100 countries and organizations had registered to participate in the conference and he called on Asia-Pacific countries to join as well.

“We are disappointed that some heads of state and government have not yet confirmed their participation in the peace summit,” Zelensky said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, without mentioning China or the United States by name.

The peace summit risks being sidelined if Biden, a key supporter of Ukraine, ultimately stays away. Biden is engrossed in his election campaign against Donald Trump and has so far shown no signs of attending.

China also said on Friday that it would be “difficult” to attend the conference if Russia did not participate.

Beijing believes that the conference should “recognize Russia and Ukraine, equal participation of all parties and a fair discussion of all peace plans,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular press conference.

“Otherwise, it will be difficult for the conference to play a substantive role in restoring peace,” she said.

On the sidelines of the security forum in Singapore, Zelensky also met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sunday. Zelensky told journalists that the meeting went “very well.”

In a post on X, Zelensky said the two discussed “our country’s defense needs, strengthening Ukraine’s air defense system, the F-16 coalition and developing a bilateral security agreement.”

In a transcript of the talks, Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder said Austin reiterated “the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.”

Austin also reaffirmed “the United States commitment to maintaining strong support from a coalition of more than 50 countries to help Ukraine defend its freedom,” Ryder said.

The meeting came after Washington decided to partially lift restrictions on the use of US weapons for attacks inside Russia, which Zelensky welcomed as a “step forward”.

The last time Zelensky and Austin met in person in Washington in December, Zelensky made a final appeal to the US to exhaust its aid before it ran out.

After months of political wrangling, the U.S. Congress passed a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine in April, paving the way for much-needed weapons for the country’s outnumbered troops.

Chinese defense spokesman Wu Qian told AFP he was unaware of any plans for Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun to meet with Zelensky in Singapore.

Ukraine is struggling to repel a Russian ground offensive in the Kharkiv region, where Moscow recently made its biggest territorial gains in 18 months.

Zelenskyy has been travelling to European countries in recent days to request more military aid for Ukrainian troops. At the same time, he warned his partners about the risks if they showed signs of war fatigue.

“It is very important for Ukrainians that the world does not get tired … that the world understands that it cannot get tired of the war started by the aggressor,” Zelensky said in Portugal on Tuesday.

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