28 Apr 2021 12:03

Zelensky calls Vatican optimal venue for meeting with Putin

KYIV. April 28 (Interfax) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin could take place at the Vatican.

"Yes, indeed, it could be the optimal venue from all standpoints. The Vatican is truly an ideal place for dialogue on peace, because the Holy See is a global moral authority, which has always effectively played a role as a mediator, as it is unbiased and enjoys the trust of all participants in a conflict. This is why historically the Apostolic capital has often been appealed to to help resolve conflicts between states and to promote a peaceful future," Zelensky said in an interview with the La Repubblika newspaper, which was also published on the Ukrainian presidential website on Wednesday.

Zelensky said this after being asked whether Rome or the Vatican could host his meeting with the Russian president.

"The venue for the meeting should be trusted by both sides, while a mediator with such authority could provide the confidence that is lacking in attempts between Ukraine and Russia to reach agreement," he said.

"This is what makes the Vatican different from other world actors: the Vatican remains an exclusively moral force and always acts in an uninterested way, without having its own military-political or economic interests. There is both its authority, its sincere desire to help, and guarantees of responsibility. The pope is a prophet of peace by his mission," Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian president also expressed confidence that "such a meeting will certainly take place."

"As a starting point, the meeting should take place in territory that personifies peace and dialogue," he said.

Russia has not received an official proposal from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vatican, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

"In fact, President Zelensky said it could be an ideal venue for a meeting. Of course, neither the Vatican nor, if we understand this correctly, the Russian side have been formally notified of this. We haven't received any official information that such a proposal has been elaborated and conceived," Peskov told journalists.

Journalists asked Peskov whether Putin is ready to meet in any place other than Moscow and whether he would go anywhere for the sake of the meeting. "I don't know whether President Putin is ready to go anywhere or not," he said.

For now, one should rely on Putin's earlier statement, according to which Donbas affairs should be discussed with Russia within the Normandy format, Peskov said. "Putin said earlier that he would be glad to see President Zelensky in Moscow in case of readiness to discuss bilateral relations. We haven't seen any other specific statements just yet," he said.