China says it's 'hard to meet' discussions on Russia-Ukraine war, citing problems with arrangements

BEIJING (AP) — China said Friday it would be “’hard to meet” calls for discussions on the Russia-Ukraine war, citing problems with arrangements that appear to point to Beijing's strongly pro-Moscow stance.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that “China’s hopes appear to be hard to meet at the meeting."

“There is still a clear gap between the arrangements for the meeting and the demands of the Chinese side, as well as the general expectations of the international community,” Mao said.

Mao gave no details, but said that China has "informed parties concerned about our considerations and concerns.” and would keep in touch with all parties concerned. China claims to be neutral in the conflict, but has strongly backed Russia, most recently hosting President Vladimir Putin on a state visit.

In an interview with China's official Xinhua News Agency released Wednesday, Putin hailed his ties with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, saying that “President Xi maintains a respectful, friendly, open and at the same time business-like style of communication.”

“Our every meeting is not just a dialogue between old friends ... but also a fruitful exchange of views on the most topical issues on the bilateral and international agenda,” Putin said.

Putin hailed Beijing’s peace plan for Ukraine that has been largely dismissed and makes no requirements for Moscow to return land it has seized, saying that “we commend China’s approaches to resolving the crisis in Ukraine.”

Switzerland had proposed the talks for the coming days in hopes of bringing an end to the war, which was sparked by Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, but they haven't been endorsed by Moscow.

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This story has been corrected to remove a reference to Ukraine not endorsing the talks. Ukraine supports them.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine