EU welcomes Xi-Zelensky talks
This combination of pictures created on April 26, 2023 shows Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) leaving from 10 Downing Street in central London on February 8, 2023, after meeting with Britain's Prime Minister, and China's President Xi Jinping (R) attending a meeting with Russian Prime Minister in Moscow on March 21, 2023. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed a new ambassador to Beijing on April 26, 2023 after his first call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping since Moscow's invasion. Pavel Ryabikin, who previously headed the ministry of strategic industries of Ukraine, was named Kyiv's new envoy to China, according to a decree on the presidency's website. Ukraine has not had an ambassador to China since February 2021. (Photo by Daniel LEAL and DMITRY ASTAKHOV / various sources / AFP)
(AFP) - Brussels welcomed Wednesday's conversation between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, thought to be their first call since Russia invaded Ukraine.
"It is an important, long overdue first step by China in exercising its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council," said European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer.
"China's leadership needs to use its influence to bring Russia to end its war of aggression, restore Ukraine's territorial integrity and respect its sovereignty, as a basis for a just peace."
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also welcomed the development, in comments during a visit to Colombia.
"It's a first step. But it's an important first step," he told journalists in Bogota.
"It is very important that China talks with Ukraine, I want to remind you that we all want peace," he added, speaking to them in Spanish before a formal news conference in English.
"If anyone wants it, needs it and is asking for it, it's Ukraine.
"But everyone has to understand that it is not just any (peace)... it has to be a just peace that recognises the rights of the rights of the people of Ukraine."
Referring to the talks between Xi and Zelensky, he added: "I am glad of this conversation, I hope it will be the first step for China to play a role and convince Russia to stop its aggression."
Beijing says it is neutral in the Ukraine conflict and Xi has never condemned the Russian invasion, but the Chinese leader has come under increased pressure from Western nations to step in and mediate.
A 12-point "position paper" published by China in February was seen by many Western governments as skewed towards Russia, and a friendly Moscow visit in March by Xi to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin led to widespread criticism.
© Agence France-Presse