Macron ‘working with China on secret plan for Ukraine war peace talks’

Kyiv’s line has been to veto anything that could allow Russia to keep any territorial gains from Moscow’s invasion

William Mata
Tuesday 18 April 2023 19:52 BST
France’s President Emmanuel Macron
France’s President Emmanuel Macron (AFP via Getty Images)

Emmanuel Macron is said to be looking to make arrangements with China that could see talks held between Russia and Ukraine “by the summer”.

The French president is believed to have asked his foreign policy advisor, Emmanuel Bonne, to reach out to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi with the final aim of setting up negotiations.

On a recent trip to China, Mr Macron was seemingly unable to convince President Xi to finally speak with President Volodymyr Zelensky after a silence between the pair that has lasted since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

The details of Mr Macron’s plan are not clear and reports have not said if they have the blessing of Mr Zelensky.

Kyiv’s line has so far been to veto anything that could allow Russia to keep any territorial gains from the invasion. Bloomberg suggested that the possibility of the talks hinged on Ukraine staging a strong spring offensive to put them in a strong position to negotiate.

An official from Macron’s office confirmed to Bloomberg the plan for Mr Bonne to speak to Mr Wang but declined to comment on the details, adding that France’s allies have been informed of any French initiative. In response to questions, China’s Foreign Ministry said it was unaware of the source of the information and “difficult to verify the authenticity”.

The Telegraph reported that Mr Macron’s office had “discussed the next steps in the organisation of a peace summit” with Mr Zelensky.

A government insider told the newspaper: "Mr Macron said publicly during his China trip that he wanted to get China to commit to playing a constructive role. Naturally, diplomatic discussions took place and there [will be] a follow-up."

Mr Macron had travelled to China with Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president who has continued to discourage violence against Taiwan.

She told the commission after the visit: “A strong European-China policy relies on strong coordination between member states and EU institutions and on the willingness to avoid divide and conquer tactics.

"We have already in the recent days and weeks seen those tactics in action and it is now time for Europe to move to action too. Now is the time to demonstrate our collective will.”

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