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NSA Doval in Jeddah as India ramps up diplomacy to end Ukraine war

National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval

National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval arrived in Jeddah on Saturday to take part in the two-day ‘Ukraine Peace Summit’ that kicked off sans Russia, and will see participation of representatives from around 40 countries including the United States and China.

Doval arriving in Saudi for a summit sends a strong signal that New Delhi poses to assert its role in peace efforts to a conflict that is festering for the last 18 months.

In another significant posture, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations Ruchira Kamboj said that India supports the efforts made by the UN Secretary-General in continuing the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Kamboj said, “Recent developments in this matter have not helped in securing the larger cause of peace and stability very quickly, I would like to state that India has always been proactive in assisting our partners in times of distress.”

Last month, Russia announced it was terminating implementation of the UN-brokered deal that allowed export of grain and related foodstuffs and fertilisers from Ukrainian ports.

While India has not explicitly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has always maintained that the conflict must be resolved by dialogue and diplomacy.

On the issue of Ukraine, China’s stance, though neutral, is widely considered that of Russia. China has skipped a peace summit on Ukraine in Copenhagen in June.

There was no clarity till last evening that China would send a senior representative to Jeddah. However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry suddenly announced that its special envoy for Eurasian affairs Li Hui will take part in the  talks in Saudi Arabia.

“China is willing to work with the international community to continue to play a constructive role in promoting a political solution to the crisis,” ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

Saudi media termed the participation of China as a diplomatic coup for the Kingdom.

Saudi state news agency SPA said the kingdom anticipated the meeting would reinforce “dialogue and cooperation… to ensure a solution for the crisis through political and diplomatic means.”

A senior European Union official said Saudi Arabia reached “into parts of the world where (Ukraine’s) classical allies would not get to as easily.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that he hoped the Saudi initiative will lead to a “peace summit” of leaders from around the world this autumn to endorse the principles, based on his own 10-point formula for a settlement.

Zelensky’s formula includes respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the withdrawal of Russian troops, anathema to Moscow which claims to have annexed occupied Ukrainian territory forever.

Ukrainian, Russian and international officials say there is no prospect of direct peace talks between Ukraine and Russia at the moment, as the war continues to rage and Kyiv seeks to reclaim territory through a counter-offensive.