Spanish PM calls for end to ‘illegal’ war in Ukraine in talks with China’s Xi

(Update 1: Changes headline, lede and adds detail throughout)

Beijing, Mar 31 (EFE).- Russia must respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez told Chinese president Xi Jinping on Friday, for Moscow’s “illegal and unjust” war to end.

During talks in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sánchez echoed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s position that “respect of national sovereignty and territorial integrity” should come first if China’s 12-point peace plan is to succeed.

The summit between Xi and Sánchez comes after the Chinese leader met with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week.

The Spanish premier said he was keen to learn more about Xi’s position regarding the war in Ukraine, adding that the objective must be a “fair and lasting” peace.

Sánchez said Russia’s “illegal and unjust” invasion had brought the scourge of war back to Europe.

“Europe is a peace project,” the Spanish PM stressed, insisting that negotiations should be guided by the United Nations Charter and must respect principles such as the international rule of law and national sovereignty and territorial integrity, “as president Zelenskyy demands in his peace plan, which Spain supports.”

Sánchez called for communication channels to remain open to resolve issues through dialogue and the rules-based multilateral order.

“Nothing replaces direct contact between the authorities and leaders of countries. It is very important that, despite the differences, we seek spaces for dialogue and also for agreement,” he added.

In his address, which did not explicitly mention Ukraine, Xi focused on his country’s bilateral ties with Spain and welcomed the fact both nations were celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations.

He highlighted their collaboration across many areas and championed an executive plan for cooperation until 2026 that includes exports of agricultural products, agreements in education and phytosanitary measures and a memorandum of understanding for collaboration in sports matters.

Xi also praised Sánchez for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Spain’s economic growth.

“Let’s jointly share the opportunities and meet the challenges to push bilateral development further and make contributions to world peace and development,” he added.

Sánchez spoke of Spain’s imminent EU Council presidency and said he wanted to create more spaces for cooperation and dialogue, especially to fight climate change, which he described as “the most important challenge”.

After his meeting with Xi, Sánchez, who had already met with the Chinese premier, Li Qiang, held talks with the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Zhao Leji.EFE


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