Tuesday, June 20, 2023

South Africa praises the 'historic' peace trip to Ukraine following

 JOHANNESBURG: Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa praised a "historic" African mission to broker peace in Ukraine, which France praised.

After returning from meetings in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Saint Petersburg, Russia, Ramaphosa made the comment, which did not result in any immediate action.

On Saturday, the high-profile delegation of presidents and envoys met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before departing for Russia on Sunday to meet with Putin.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters on Monday during a visit to Pretoria that "any peace effort is positive if it aims to restore the principles of the UN Charter" with the "goal of a just and lasting peace." She did not answer questions from journalists about Pretoria's close ties to Russia.

South Africa, a powerful continent, has refused to condemn Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, which has largely isolated Moscow on the international stage. Instead, it has stated that it wants to remain neutral and would prefer to end the war through dialogue.

The mission of African leaders brought the perspective of a continent that has suffered greatly from the effects of the conflict in Ukraine, particularly from rising grain prices.

It set forward a 10-point proposition, including de-heightening, the acknowledgment of nations' power, unhampered grain trades through the Dark Ocean and sending detainees of war and kids back to their nations of beginning.

However, the Kremlin deemed the principles "very difficult to implement," and Zelensky ruled out talks with Moscow while Russian troops occupied Ukrainian territory.

"This initiative has been historic in that it is the first time African leaders have embarked on a peace mission beyond the shores of the continent," Ramaphosa stated in his weekly newsletter on Monday.

He stated that "the positive reception" from both sides, "which provides cause for optimism that the proposals will be given consideration," was "one of the key achievements" of the mission.

He stated that Putin and Zelenskyy have agreed to engage in additional activities.

Analysts told AFP that efforts to maintain peace appear to be becoming increasingly risky because both Kyiv and Moscow are convinced they will prevail on the battlefield.

This month, Ukraine launched a long-awaited counteroffensive.

"A foundation can be set for a de-escalation of the conflict and negotiation," Ramaphosa stated.

The presidents of South Africa, Senegal, the Comoros, Zambia, and Uganda, as well as top officials from Egypt, Congo-Brazzaville, and Uganda, were on the diplomatic team.

During the joint press conference with her French counterpart, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor denied rumors that the African peace plan includes a proposal to suspend Putin's international arrest warrant.

"There's nothing of the sort," she said.

The allegations that Russia unlawfully deported Ukrainian children led to the warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Putin.

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