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African peace delegation to visit Russia in June or July: Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ugandan counterpart Odongo Jeje Abubakhar enter a hall prior to their meeting in Moscow on May 18, 2023.   -  
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Russia said Thursday African leaders would visit Moscow next month or early July under a peace initiative for the Ukraine conflict announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had each agreed to receive the six-member mission, which will visit Moscow and Kyiv.

"Taking into consideration the wishes of President Ramaphosa, we are talking about mid, end June or beginning July" for the visit, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Lavrov was speaking at a press conference with Jeje Odongo, his counterpart from Uganda, one of the countries taking part in the initiative.

Other members of the delegation unveiled by Ramaphosa are the presidents of the Republic of Congo, Egypt, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia.

"President (Putin) is always ready to talk to all our partners who are honestly interested in having stability in the world," Lavrov said.

He added that Russia would look forward to seeing "concrete initiatives" put forward by the delegation.

Ramaphosa did not give a specific timeline for the visit or other details, saying only that the conflict had been "devastating" and Africa "is also suffering a great deal" from it.

African countries have been badly hit by rising prices of grain and by the impact to world trade.

His announcement came a day after Ramaphosa said South Africa had been under "extraordinary pressure" to pick sides in the conflict, following accusations from the United States that Pretoria supplied weapons to Moscow -- a move that would break with its professed neutrality.

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