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Zelensky was disappointed with the turnout of world leaders for the peace summit in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed disappointment that “some world leaders” had not signed up for a peace summit this month, after China said Xi Jinping would not attend and US President Joe Biden has not yet committed.

Mr Zelenskyy made the comments at a security forum in Singapore as he tried to drum up support for the conference on Ukraine in Switzerland in June.

He also called for more military aid for Ukraine, which has ceded territory to Russian forces.

“We are disappointed that some world leaders have not yet confirmed their participation in the peace summit,” Zelenskyy said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, without naming China or the US.

The peace summit risks being overshadowed if key Ukrainian backer Biden – who is stuck in his campaign against Donald Trump and has given no sign that he would participate – ultimately fails to attend.

He accused China of working hard to prevent countries from attending the summit, which Beijing has criticized for not inviting Russia.

“China is unfortunately working hard today to prevent countries from coming to the peace summit,” Zelenskyy told reporters at the Shangri-La dialogue, which draws defense officials from around the world.

Beijing believes the conference should have “the recognition of Russia and Ukraine, equal participation of all parties and a frank discussion on all peace plans,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a regular news conference on Friday.

“Otherwise it is difficult for the conference to play a substantial role in restoring peace,” she said.

Zelenskyy also met US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday on the sidelines of the security forum in Singapore. Mr Zelenskyy told reporters they had a “very good” meeting.

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In a readout of the conversations, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said Mr. Austin “reiterated unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.”

Mr. Austin “also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to maintaining the strong support of a coalition of more than 50 countries to help Ukraine defend its freedom,” Major General Ryder said.

The meeting came after Washington decided to partially lift restrictions on the use of US-supplied weapons for attacks in Russia, which Mr Zelenskyy has praised as a “step forward”.

Mr. Zelenskyy and Mr. Austin last met in person in December in Washington, where Mr. Zelenskyy made a last-ditch plea for American aid before it ran out.

The US Congress approved a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine in April after months of political wrangling, freeing up much-needed weapons for the country’s remaining troops.

Chinese defense spokesman Wu Qian told AFP he was not aware of plans for Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun to meet Mr Zelenskyy in Singapore.

Ukraine is struggling to contain a Russian ground offensive in the Kharkiv region, where Moscow recently made its biggest territorial gains in 18 months.

Mr. Zelenskyy has toured European countries in recent days seeking more military aid for Ukrainian forces, warning partners of the risks if they show signs of war fatigue.

“It is very important for Ukrainians that the world does not get tired … that the world understands that it cannot get tired of the war launched by the aggressor,” Zelenskyy said in Portugal on Tuesday.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Updated: June 2, 2024, 2:10 PM

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