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War in Ukraine: South Africa ready to host talks

War in Ukraine: South Africa ready to host talks
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to South African President ....   -  
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Sergei Chirikov/AP

South Africa

South Africa on Thursday declared itself ready to host peace talks to resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with Pretoria last month announcing an upcoming mediation led by six leaders of African countries in Kyiv and Moscow.

"We must be open to the possibility of South Africa hosting the peace summit here," Minister to the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told a press conference in Pretoria after the meeting.

The southern African country last month announced mediation in Russia and Ukraine to "find a peaceful solution" to the war. The mission should begin in the next few weeks. Besides Pretoria, the delegation includes the heads of state of Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia.

President Cyril Ramaphosa 's office said in a statement on Thursday that the South African president spoke on the phone with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the latter having "welcomed the initiative of African heads of state".

Mr Ramaphosa had already indicated last month that the Russian president and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, both gave their agreement to receive the African peace mission.

South Africa, which has refused to condemn Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine, claiming to remain "neutral" and favor dialogue, is criticized on the international scene for its closeness to Moscow.

Pretoria has been close to the Kremlin since the days of the apartheid struggle.

Africa is hard hit by the increase in cereal prices and the consequences of the war between Russia and Ukraine on world trade.

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