Selenskyj surprising at the summit of the Arab League

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Status: 05/19/2023 1:57 p.m

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy made a surprise trip to the Arab League summit. According to diplomatic circles, he had been invited by the Saudi king as a guest of honour. The meeting will also deal with the topic of energy security.

After visiting several European countries, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise trip to Saudi Arabia for the Arab League summit. Coming from Poland, Zelenskyj landed in the coastal city of Jeddah, as reported by the Al-Arabiya news channel. Zelenskyy himself confirmed his arrival in the kingdom on Twitter and explained that it was his first trip there. He will meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other government officials.

Saudi Arabia plays an important role, Zelenskyj wrote. “We are ready to take our cooperation to a new level.”

Zelenskyj as guest of honor of King Salman

According to diplomatic circles, Saudi King Salman had invited Selenskyj as a guest of honor to the League’s annual summit. The Gulf States maintain good relations with Russia and strive for neutrality in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. “Our priorities are the return of our political prisoners from Crimea and the temporarily occupied territories, the return of all prisoners and illegally deported,” Zelenskyy wrote.

The focus will also be on “the presentation of our peace formula, the implementation of which must involve as many countries as possible” and “the guarantee of energy security next winter”. It is also about protecting the Islamic community in Ukraine, Zelenskyj continued, referring to the Crimean Tartars.

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It is unclear whether Zelenskyj will give a speech

The Arab League was founded in 1945 and has 22 members. The aim is to achieve even greater cooperation, for example in politics and business, and to settle conflicts. The organization’s summit is likely to deal with the situation in Sudan, Yemen and Syria, among other things. To what extent Ukraine will be an issue and whether Selenskyj should speak at the summit himself has so far remained unclear.

A possible meeting between Zelenskyy and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who after years of isolation, could be of particular interest for the first time again at a league summit participates. Assad is closely allied in the Syrian civil war with Russia, which has been bombing targets in Syria in support of government troops since 2015.

Saudi Arabia offers intermediary role an

According to Arab diplomats in Riyadh, Zelenskyy’s participation offers an opportunity to talk about a solution to the conflict. Ways to start direct negotiations between Moscow and Kiev could also be discussed, it said. Saudi Arabia has offered to act as a mediator on several occasions.

Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan visited Kiev and Moscow in February and March, where he met his counterparts from both countries. The Russian war of aggression has put the Gulf States in an awkward position. They are under pressure to choose between their historic partnership with the US and their growing economic and political ties to Russia, wrote Middle East Institute (MEI) expert Gerald Feierstein shortly after the war broke out last year. “While Europe burns, the Gulf States hide under the table.”

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Will Zelenskyy continue to Hiroshima?

From Jeddah, the Ukrainian President could travel on to Japan. He is expected there at the G7 meeting scheduled for Sunday, according to informed circles in Hiroshima. The official G7 program originally envisaged Zelenskyy speaking to the summit participants via video link on Sunday. However, the Secretary of the Security Council, Oleksiy Danilov, had said on Ukrainian television with a view to the G7 summit: “Very important things will be decided there, so the physical presence of our president is absolutely important to represent our interests.”

The central topic of the summit is continued support for Ukraine and tightened sanctions against Russia for the attack on the country. The group of important industrialized countries, including Germany, Japan and the USA, has already announced new sanctions in order to paralyze the Russian “war machine” as much as possible.



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