Zelenskyy urges top defense officials to attend upcoming summit on ending Russia’s war on Ukraine

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SINGAPORE (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged a group of top defense officials at Asia’s premier security conference on Sunday to attend an upcoming peace summit, saying Ukraine was ready to hear “various proposals and thoughts” on ending the war with Russia.

Zelenskyy told the group of more than 500 delegates from about 40 countries that he was “disappointed” some world leaders had not yet confirmed attendance at the conference in Switzerland in about two weeks.

He did not specify any country by name, but the possible participation of China, Russia’s most important ally, has been seen as a key issue.

Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun spoke earlier in the day at the Shangri-La conference but he did not appear to be in the room when Zelenskyy made his appeal.

Zelenskyy said that Ukraine had proposals to make at the summit as a basis for peace, addressing nuclear security, food security, the release of prisoners of war and the return of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia.

“Time is running out, and the children are growing up in the Putin-land where they are taught to hate their homeland,” he said.

At the same time, Zelenskyy said Ukraine is “ready to hear various proposals and thoughts that lead us … to an end of the war and a sustainable and just peace.”

The greater the participation, the more likely it will be that Russia will have to listen, he said.

“The global majority can ensure with their involvement that what is agreed upon is truly implemented,” he said.

Zelenskyy said he was later to meet one-on-one with Singapore’s prime minister and would urge him to participate in person in the Switzerland talks.

“The same goes for the countries in the region,” Zelenskyy said through an interpreter. “We truly count on you supporting this summit, and that you will be present in Switzerland.”

Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, who shared the stage with Zelenskyy, did not say whether his country’s leaders would attend, but did note Singapore had condemned the invasion and provided Ukraine with military ambulances.

“We stand with you, and I think your appearance at this Shangri-La Dialogue is the epitome of what we are all hoping for, a rules-based order that guarantees the security and survival of large nations and small,” he said.

Earlier in the day in his own address to the forum, Dong did not specifically mention the Switzerland meetings, but did say “on the Ukraine crisis, China has been promoting peace talks with a responsible attitude.”

He added that China had not provided weapons to either side of the conflict.

“We have never done anything to fan the flames,” he said. “We stand firmly on the side of peace and dialogue.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also attended the conference and sat in the front row as Zelenskyy talked.

In an address Friday, Austin told the group that “Putin’s war of aggression has provided us all with a preview of a world that none of us would want.”

“We’ve all been inspired by the courage of Ukraine’s troops and the resilience of Ukraine’s people,” Austin said. “People around the world have rushed to help Ukraine defend itself, including countries across the Indo-Pacific.”

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