RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia plans to host talks next weekend to discuss a path towards peace in Ukraine, convening representatives from Kyiv, Western powers and developing countries, officials told AFP on Saturday.
Russia will not attend the meeting in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, just as it did not participate in a similar gathering last month in Copenhagen, said three officials based in the Gulf who have been briefed on the plans.
A full list of participants was not available, although countries including Britain and Japan were expected to attend, the officials said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the Saudi-hosted talks and said developing countries such as Brazil that attended the Copenhagen meeting were also expected to be in Jeddah.
The move represents the latest effort by Saudi Arabia to assert itself in diplomacy related to the Ukraine war.
In May, the kingdom hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at an Arab League summit in Jeddah, where he accused some Arab leaders of turning “a blind eye” to the horrors of Russia’s invasion.
Riyadh has backed UN Security Council resolutions denouncing Russia’s invasion as well as Russia’s declared annexation of territory in eastern Ukraine.
At the same time, it has continued to coordinate closely with Russia on energy policy, including oil production cuts approved last October that Washington said at the time amounted to “aligning with Russia” in the war.
Last September, Riyadh played an unexpected role in brokering the release of foreign fighters detained in Ukraine, including two from the United States and five from Britain.
Earlier this year, a Saudi official told journalists that Riyadh remained open to contributing to mediation to end the conflict, especially “on important minor issues that may help cumulatively in the end to have a political solution of the whole issue.”
As of February, Saudi Arabia had pledged $400 million in relief to Ukraine, about two-thirds in oil products and one-third in other humanitarian aid, including allocations for Ukrainian refugees who fled to neighboring countries.
Saudi officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday about the upcoming talks in Jeddah.