Ukraine peace summit organisers look to India to help shape agenda, discussions | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Ukraine peace summit organisers look to India to help shape agenda, discussions

Apr 12, 2024 06:21 PM IST

Besides seeking India’s participation in the summit, the Swiss side called on New Delhi to play a role in shaping the agenda and discussions

NEW DELHI: The organisers of an upcoming conference on peace in Ukraine are looking to India to help shape the agenda for the meeting of the heads of state and government, including possible solutions to the conflict, people familiar with the matter said.

Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request, the Swiss government this week announced plans to hold the so-called peace summit (AP)
Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request, the Swiss government this week announced plans to hold the so-called peace summit (AP)

Following a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in January, the Swiss government this week announced plans to hold the so-called peace summit at the five-star Bürgenstock Hotel above Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland in June. Though no dates were announced, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation reported the meet will be held on June 15-16.

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While formal invitations for the conference are yet to be sent out, the Indian side was informally sounded out about the meeting when Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis made a brief visit to New Delhi on February 5 to meet his Indian counterpart, S Jaishankar, the people said on condition of anonymity.

Besides seeking India’s participation in the peace summit, the Swiss side called on New Delhi to play a role in shaping the agenda and discussions, the people said. Around 120 countries will be invited at the level of heads of state and government.

“We not only want India to participate but also take on a role in fashioning the agenda and possible solutions to the Ukraine war. India is uniquely placed because of its relations with all the players,” a person familiar with the discussions said.

“India can pick and choose topics from President Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace formula or it can even bring other topics and solutions to the table,” the person said.

Zelenskyy’s formula envisages the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, withdrawal of Russian troops, formal confirmation of the end of the war, and radiation and nuclear safety, especially in the context of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The people emphasised that, as of now, the conference isn’t expected to lead to any breakthrough that ends the fighting. The meeting will mark the start of a process that could lead to a possible solution, they said.

The Indian side is yet to take a call on the level of the country’s participation in the peace summit, the people said. Earlier, there was speculation that India might not be able to participate at the highest level if the conference is held too close to the end of the election cycle. With the election results to be announced on June 4, there will be enough time for the prime minister to take a call on attending the meeting, the people said.

The Indian premier is also expected to be invited to outreach sessions of the G7 Summit to be held at Apulia in Italy on June 13-15, and the two visits could be clubbed, the people said.

The Swiss and Ukrainian governments have emphasised the importance of engaging India for the peace summit given its standing in the Global South. India’s participation in the conference topped the agenda for Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba’s visit to New Delhi in March.

“India can take the lead to become the first major non-Western power to openly support the summit on President Zelenskyy’s peace formula...India is a voice that matters to others, especially in the Global South, and it will help to convince them,” Kuleba said in an interview to HT on March 29.

The Swiss government too has said it believes the participation of Brics states – Brazil, India, China and South Africa – will be crucial. Besides India, Swiss foreign minister Cassis travelled to China in February. A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman told Bloomberg this week it is important to listen to the Global South as it will play a “key role in the eventual inclusion of Russia” in the peace process.

India has refrained from publicly criticising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, during separate phone calls with Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said dialogue and diplomacy are the way forward in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and India backs all steps for the early and peaceful resolution of issues between the two sides.

US President Joe Biden is expected to participate in the peace summit as he is scheduled to join the G7 Summit, Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper reported citing several sources. China’s ambassador to Switzerland has been quoted by the media as saying that Beijing is “examining the possibility of taking part”.

It is unlikely that Russia will be part of the conference.

The Swiss government, in an official statement, said the conference will be an opportunity to discuss “different approaches to peace in Ukraine”, and it aims to provide a platform for a high-level dialogue on “ways to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace for Ukraine based on international law and the UN Charter”. It also aims to “create a common understanding of the framework conducive to this goal and a concrete roadmap for the peace process”.

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