India among countries invited to Ukraine peace conference hosted by Switzerland in June

Putin has mocked conference and said Russia wasn't invited

1256368578 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

India is among the 120 countries invited to attend the Ukraine peace conference planned in June to initiate a peace process in Ukraine. 

The lakeside Burgenstock resort is expected to host the meet on June 15 and 16. Top government officials from dozens of countries, including India and China, have been invited to deliberate on a plan laid out by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.

The conference "aims to provide a platform for a high-level dialogue on ways to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace for Ukraine based on international law and the UN Charter".

India's attendance at the meeting was discussed when Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis visited New Delhi on February 5. Cassis met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and sounded out Delhi on the conference and India’s participation, according to The Indian Express. 

This was followed up by Zelenskyy’s phone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March and a visit by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to convey an invitation to India to attend the conference, the report added.

However, the details of India's participation will become clear only after the results of the Lok Sabha elections are out on June 4. 

Though the US has not confirmed its participation yet, Swiss daily Neue Zrcher Zeitung reported that U.S. President Joe Biden could attend. He is likely to be in Italy during that time for the G7 leaders meeting.

"The first country that we spoke with, after Ukraine of course, was Russia, because a peace process cannot happen without Russia, even if it won't be there for the first meeting," Cassis told reporters Wednesday in the Swiss capital, Bern.

The Swiss government said early talks toward arranging the conference involved the European Union and envoys from the so-called Global South, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

"At its meeting today, the Federal Council took note of the results to date and discussed the next steps. There is currently sufficient international support for a high-level conference to launch the peace process," the federal government in Bern said in a statement.

There are also questions as to whether China will attend the conference. After visiting India, Cassis had gone to Beijing. China's Foreign Ministry has said that Beijing supports a conference that's accepted by both Russia and Ukraine, which isn't the case so far. 

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday mocked the Ukraine peace talks in Switzerland, warning that Moscow will not accept any enforced plans that ignore its interests. 

Putin said that Russia hadn't been invited to join June's talks while pointing at Swiss recognition that a peace process can't happen without Russia. "They aren't inviting us there. Moreover, they think there is nothing for us to do there, but at the same time, they say that's it's impossible to decide anything without us. It would have been funny if it weren't so sad," Putin alleged.

Russia has dismissed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's peace formula requiring Moscow to pull back its troops, pay compensation to Ukraine and face an international tribunal for its action.

Speaking during Thursday's meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow, Putin said that Russia is open for negotiations, but will never accept any schemes that have nothing to do with reality.

(With PTI inputs)

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