Macron urges Xi to use China's influence with Putin to end Ukraine war on state visit

France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, is welcomed by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Credit: AP

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged leader Xi Jinping to use China's influence with Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

Macron met with the Chinese President on Thursday and appealed him to “bring Russia to its senses” and help make “lasting peace” in Ukraine.

Macron told Xi: “I know I can count on you, under the two principles I just mentioned, to bring Russia to its senses and bring everyone back to the negotiating table,"

“We need to find a lasting peace ... I believe that this is also an important issue for China, as much as it is for France and for Europe.”

“Peace talks should resume as soon as possible,” Xi said in response

Just a few weeks ago Xi visited Russia on what he claimed was a peace-making mission, ready to use his leverage with Putin to help broker a deal in Ukraine.

His trip was a huge morale boost for Putin, who described the two as having a ‘’brotherly friendship’’.  

Xi did not mention Ukraine or Russia but said he welcomed relations with France.

He said Beijing and Paris are “staunch promoters of multipolarisation of the world,” in reference to reducing US dominance in economic and political affairs.

Macron said earlier, during a meeting with ruling Communist Party's second in command, Premier Li Qiang, that he wanted to talk about “Ukraine, but also about all the major conflicts and the difficult situations around the world.”

“The ability to share a common analysis and build a common path is essential,” Macron said.

Macron is accompanied by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a show of European unity in dealings with Beijing.

Macron said on Wednesday he wanted to “engage China toward a shared responsibility for peace” in Ukraine. He expressed hope China will “participate in initiatives that are useful to the Ukrainian people.”

Li said there was likely to be “broad consensus” between Macron and Xi but gave no indication whether Beijing might be willing to lobby Moscow to make peace.

The meeting aimed to “send positive signals of concerted efforts by China, France and Europe to maintain world peace and stability,” Li said.

France's President Emmanuel Macron arrives for a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China. Credit: AP

China is the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas, which helps to prop up the Kremlin’s revenue in the face of Western sanctions, which increases Chinese influence, but Xi appears reluctant to jeopardise that partnership by pressuring Putin.

Meanwhile, NATO’s 31 member countries warned Wednesday of “severe consequences” should China start sending weapons and ammunition to Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said giving “lethal aid” would be a “historic mistake.” He warned there would be “severe consequences” but declined to give details.

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