Ukraine president in Philippines to promote peace summit

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, (left), meets Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on June 3. (AP)

MANILA, Philippines, June 3, (AP): Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in the Philippines on Monday in a rare Asian trip to urge regional leaders to attend a Swiss-organized global peace summit on the war in Ukraine that he accuses Russia, with China’s help, of trying to undermine.
Zelenskyy arrived unannounced and under heavy security in Manila late Sunday after speaking over the weekend at the Shangri-La defense forum in Singapore. He was given a red-carpet welcome with military honors Monday at the presidential palace before meeting with Marcos.
In a recording released by the administration, Zelenskyy seemed to indicate Marcos accepted the invitation, though it wasn’t clear if the Filipino leader agreed to personally attend the peace summit in Switzerland or to send a representative.
“I’m happy to hear today from you that you’ll participate in our peace steps,” Zelenskyy told Marcos. “It’s a very strong signal.”
Marcos’ administration did not immediately comment on the matter.
Ukraine, Zelenskyy said, will also open an embassy in Manila, a decision Marcos welcomed as it would help facilitate more assistance to the war-ravaged nation.
“We continue to do all that we can to promote peace and to bring an end to the fighting,” Marcos said.
Zelenskyy had planned but failed to meet with Marcos on the sidelines of the annual defense gathering in Singapore and decided to fly to Manila to personally invite Marcos to attend the summit in Switzerland.
Both leaders spoke critically of China at the Singapore forum, which was attended by top defense and government officials from around the world, including from Washington and Beijing. The talks were held amid the raging wars in Gaza and Ukraine as well as growing tensions and rivalry for influence between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific region.
At a news conference in Singapore Sunday, Zelenskyy accused China of helping Russia to disrupt the Swiss-organized peace summit by pressuring other countries and their leaders not to attend the talks.
“Russia, using Chinese influence in the region, using Chinese diplomats also, does everything to disrupt the peace summit,” he said without elaborating. “Regrettably, this is unfortunate that such a big independent powerful country as China is an instrument in the hands of (Russian leader Vladimir) Putin.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Zelenskyy’s claim.

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