Biden to not attend Ukraine peace summit, says White House

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WASHINGTON, DC (US) : US Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Switzerland next week to participate in a summit aimed at helping chart a path toward peace in Ukraine, the White House said.

Vice President Harris will be accompanied by US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan to the Summit on Peace in Ukraine set for June 15-16 in Lucerne, Switzerland.

US President Joe Biden will skip the two-day summit as he is due to be at a star-studded fundraising event for his 2024 re-election campaign in Los Angeles. Biden, who Ukraine President Vladamir Zelenskyy invited will be participating, according to the Hollywood Reporter at the fundraiser event in which host Jimmy Kimmel will moderate a conversation between Biden and former President Barack Obama. It will feature special guests George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

Vice President Harris and Sullivan at the Switzerland summit will highlight the importance of countries continuing to support Ukraine’s effort to secure a just and lasting peace the National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby told reporters at a press gaggle at the White House on Monday.

At the peace conference, they will underscore the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to supporting Ukraine’s effort to secure a just and lasting peace based on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the principles of the UN Charter, Kirby said.

The spokesperson said that the war could end tomorrow “if Russian President Vladamir. Putin would simply withdraw his forces from Ukraine. “In the meantime, we will continue, and our allies and partners will continue, to support the people of Ukraine as they fight every day to defend themselves against this aggression,” Kirby said.

At a press conference in Brussels last week, Zelenskky had said that US President Biden’s absence “would only be met by an applause by Putin – a personal, standing applause,”

In response to reporters’ queries at the White House gaggle on Monday, Kirby said Biden has been a staunch supporter of the peace deal.

“The United States has actively participated in every single one of the previous Ukraine peace summits. Every single one. And as I said earlier, we have been the strongest, most staunch supporter of this peace deal that President Zelenskyy put forward.”

The Kremlin has maintained that any talks around securing peace in Ukraine should involve Russia, which has not been invited to the summit.

Zelenskyy who was in Singapore to attend the Shangi-La Dialogue told the security conference that China was helping Russian efforts disrupt the peace conference by pressuring leaders of other countries not to attend.

“These attempts to disrupt the summit are systematic and are unprecedentedly large in scale, which once again confirms that we are doing everything right,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

Zelenskyy also said that Kyiv has confirmation from 106 countries regarding participation in the summit.

Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to London Andrey Kelin said in an interview with Turkey’s TRT World television that Russia is ready for talks but doesn’t see any such willingness in Ukraine, reported Russian state media TASS.

“We were prepared a year ago. We are prepared right now,” he said. “The problem is that Ukraine has publicly prohibited this type of negotiations by law, by decree. We do not see any desire on the part of Ukraine so far or desire on the part of Washington or London, who are behind the Ukrainian government, to negotiate,” he was cited by TASS.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said China could arrange a Russia-Ukraine peace conference.

In an interview with RIA news agency, Lavrov said, “”We share (China’s) position that the root causes of the conflict need to be addressed in the first place and legal interests of all parties need to be protected, with subsequent agreements based on the principle of equal and indivisible security.”

China, has however said it will not attend the Switzerland summit as there is an “apparent gap between the meeting’s arrangement and what China stands for as well as the universal expectation in the international community.”

Addressing a press briefing, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the Summit did not meet its expectation of equal participation of Russia and Ukraine and fair discussion of all peace plans.

Meanwhile, in the interview with RIA Lavrov also criticized the United States for supporting Ukraine, accusing Washington of being complicit in Kiev’s actions.

The peace talks set to be hosted by Switzerland has been proposed by Zelneskyy and is purportedly aimed at unifying international opinion on how to end the war.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict — that started on February 24, 2022 after Moscow launched ‘special military operations’ against Kyiv — has dragged on for over three years and has caused heavy damage to infrastructure and civilian casualties in both countries. (ANI)

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