Italian Premier Meloni describes Putin’s cease-fire offer for Ukraine as ‘propaganda’


BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy (AP) — Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni on Saturday dismissed a cease-fire offer for Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin as “propaganda,” as she wrapped up a Group of Seven summit that saw a deal reached for a $50 billion loan to Ukraine.

The loan will be provided by the U.S., U.K., Canada and possibly Japan, Meloni said. The frozen Russian assets to be used as collateral are mainly in Europe, “so Europe is already contributing by identifying the guarantee mechanism,” she added.

The loan agreement was reached at the opening Thursday of the two-day annual meeting of leaders from the G7 countries of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States in southern Italy’s Puglia region.

Asked about Putin’s cease-fire proposal, Meloni said it “seems to me more like a propaganda move than a real one.”

The Russian president said Friday he would “immediately” order a cease-fire in Ukraine and start negotiations if Kyiv begins withdrawing troops from the four regions Moscow annexed in 2022 and renounces plans to join NATO.

“If President Putin’s proposal is: We are willing to have a peace negotiation if Ukraine recognizes the invasion of Ukraine and gives up the occupied parts … doesn’t seem particularly effective to me as a proposal,” Meloni said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was one of several world leaders who attended the G7 as a guest, has rejected what he called an ultimatum by Putin to surrender more territory.

Switzerland was hosting a peace conference for Ukraine Saturday, although with Russia staying away, it was doubtful whether any major breakthroughs could be reached.

During the news conference, Meloni was asked about the Israel-Hamas war and why the G7 had not condemned Israel over the civilian deaths resulting from its offensives in Gaza.

“I think we need to remember who started all this and it wasn’t Israel, but someone who killed civilians, women and children,” Meloni said, referring to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in southern Israel that left around 1,200 people dead and sparked the war. Israel’s bombardment and ground attacks in Gaza have killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian health officials, who don’t give the breakdown of civilians and fighters.

“Now we must work for peace, which means dialogue, recognizing Israel’s right to be safe, to live in peace, and the right of the Palestinians to have their own state in which to live peacefully,” she said. “It is the only way to address this problem, our job is to dialogue with everyone.”

However, she said, Israel was falling into a trap in its response to Oct. 7.

“It looks like Israel is jumping into a trap. For the trap of Hamas was to isolate it. It seems it is working,” Meloni said, adding that Israel’s friends “need to give clear words to Israel, for its safety … and this is exactly what Italy is doing.”

The Italian premier also expressed satisfaction that “the G7 spoke for the first time about migratory flows and the fight against human traffickers.”

“We must guarantee to everyone the right not to emigrate and to leave one’s home”, she said.

Known for her hard-line stance on migration, Meloni had introduced the subject as the summit’s host and has been eager to increase investment and funding for African nations as a means of reducing migratory pressure on Europe. Italy is one of the main entry points into the European Union for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

In their final summit communique, the G7 announced a coalition to counter the smuggling of migrants, noting the seven nations would “focus on the root causes of irregular migration, efforts to enhance border management and curb transnational organized crime, and safe and regular pathways for migration.”


Becatoros reported from Bari, Italy. Associated Press writer Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

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