Saturday, May 18, 2024

Ukraine, Syria leaders Zelensky and Assad attending Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are attending the Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia on Friday. 

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomed both leaders for the 32nd summit.

Assad is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies globally and has been backed militarily by Putin during the Syrian war.

Zelenskyy has made a surprise trip to Saudi Arabia, where he addressed an Arab League summit urging leaders to help protect Ukrainians and the Muslim community in Crimea.

He has stated his first-ever visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will enhance bilateral relations and Ukraine’s ties with the Arab world.

“I have arrived in Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding, “I will speak at the Arab League summit. I will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and hold other bilateral talks.”

“Our priorities are the return of all political prisoners of Crimea and the temporarily occupied territories, the return of all prisoners and illegally deported persons, the presentation of our peace formula, the implementation of which should involve as many states as possible, and the guarantee of energy security next winter,” he continued.

“Another priority is to protect the Muslim community of Ukraine. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, is with us. Crimea was the first to suffer from the Russian occupation, and most of those who are being repressed in occupied Crimea are Muslims,” the president stated.

At the Arab League summit, MbS said that his kingdom is ready to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.

He also added that he hopes Syria’s return to the Arab League will end its crisis.

During Zelensky’s Arab League speech, he said some countries preferred to “turn a blind eye” to Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian land.

“Unfortunately, there are some in the world and here, among you, who turn a blind eye to those cages and illegal annexations,” Zelensky stated, urging leaders “take an honest look” at the war.

“Ukrainians has never chosen the war. Our troops didn’t go to other lands. We do not engage in annexation and plunder of other nation’s resources. But we will never submit to any foreigners or colonisers. That’s why we fight,” he added.

The president also highlighted how the war in Ukraine had affected Muslims in Crimea.

“Crimea was the first to suffer under the Russian occupation and until now most of those who are subjected to repression in occupied Crimea are Muslims,” he continued.

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