Official tells AP that Saudi Arabia will host a Ukrainian-organized peace summit in August

30 July 2023

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia will host a Ukrainian-organized peace summit in early August seeking to find a way to start negotiations over Russia’s war on the country, an official said Saturday night. The kingdom and Kyiv did not immediately acknowledge the planned talks.

The summit will be held in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as no authorization had been given to publicly discuss the summit.

Those taking part in the summit will include Ukraine, as well as Brazil, India, South Africa and several other countries, the official said. A high-level official from U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration also is expected to attend, the official said. Planning for the event is being overseen by Kyiv and Russia is expected not to attend, the official said.

Details regarding the summit, however, remain in flux and the official did not offer dates for the talks. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the summit, said the talks would take place Aug. 5 and 6 with some 30 countries attending, citing “diplomats involved in the discussion.”

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press, nor did Ukraine’s Embassy in Riyadh. News of the summit comes after U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan visited the kingdom on Thursday.

The official who spoke to the AP said the summit would be the next step after talks that took place in Copenhagen in June.

Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the talks come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in May attended an Arab League summit in Jeddah to press those nations to back Kyiv. Arab nations largely have remained neutral since Russia launched the war on Ukraine in February 2022, in part over their military and economic ties to Moscow.

Saudi Arabia also has maintained a close relationship with Russia as part of the OPEC+ group. The organization’s oil production cuts, even as Moscow’s war on Ukraine boosted energy prices, have angered Biden and American lawmakers.

But hosting such talks also help raise the profile of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has sought to reach a détente with Iran and push for a peace in the kingdom’s yearslong war in Yemen. However, ties also remain strained between Riyadh and the West over the 2018 killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, which U.S. intelligence agencies assess that Prince Mohammed ordered.

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Madhani reported from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

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