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China’s Xi calls Zelenskyy, in first contact since Putin launched war on Ukraine

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping appealed for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in a phone call on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, warning “there is no winner in a nuclear war,” state media said, in a long-anticipated conversation after Beijing stated it wanted to act as a peace mediator, according to AP News. 

Xi’s government will send a “special representative” to Ukraine for talks about a possible “political settlement,” said a government statement reported by state TV.

“I had a long and meaningful phone call with [Chinese] President Xi Jinping,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations,” Politico reported.

Zelenskyy had previously called on Xi publicly to make contact with him, after China circulated a purported peace plan for Ukraine.

China has tried to appear neutral in the war but refused to criticize Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement before the February 2020 invasion saying their governments had a “no limits friendship.”

Xi’s government released a peace proposal in February and called for a cease-fire and talks.

“Negotiation is the only viable way out,” state TV said in a report on Xi’s comments to Zelenskyy.

“There is no winner in a nuclear war,” the report said. “All parties concerned should remain calm and restrained in dealing with the nuclear issue and truly look at the future and destiny of themselves and humanity as a whole and work together to manage the crisis.”

This marks the first time the Chinese leader who had only met Russia’s Vladimir Putin since he launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago — has reached out to Kyiv amid Western pressure to do so.

Zelenskyy’s spokesman Sergii Nikiforov said in a Facebook post the discussion lasted for almost an hour.