Ukraine eyes global peace summit this year, says deputy foreign minister

Aftermath of recent shelling in Donetsk

By Max Hunder

(Reuters) - Ukraine aims to hold a global "peace summit" of world leaders this year, Deputy Minister Mykola Tochytskyi said on Sunday after international representatives met in Malta over the weekend to discuss Kyiv's peace formula for its war with Russia.

"This aim remains necessary and possible ... it has been demonstrated that there is interest in this," Deputy Minister Mykola Tochytskyi told Reuters by phone shortly after concluding his meetings. Heads of state and heads of government would attend the meeting, he said.

The Malta meeting on Saturday and Sunday was attended in person or online by representatives from 66 countries, Kyiv said, with over 20 more countries participating than at the last such meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in August.

The talks do not include Russia.

Tochytskyi said the Malta meeting discussed five points of the 10-point formula put forward by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last year: Nuclear safety, food security, energy security, release of prisoners and deported persons, and territorial integrity.

The deputy minister said Ukraine's efforts to win over "Global South" countries were not affected by differing positions on the Israel-Hamas conflict, although it could make it more difficult to focus the spotlight on Ukraine.

"Do military events in other corners (of the world) make it more difficult? Of course they can, but this is another vindication that President Zelenskiy's formula is important, as it is about peace."

Ukraine has sought for months to build ties with African, Asian and Latin American governments, but has found its support for Israel at odds with the positions of some of those countries.

Tochytskyi confirmed China did not attend the Malta meeting despite efforts from Ukraine to get Beijing to send a representative.

"The reasons are not known to me, as far as I can remember in Jeddah the Chinese representative, Li Hui, said he was planning to attend."

He said Ukraine was keeping an open-door policy for China or any other country to attend future summits.

(Reporting by Max Hunder; editing by Giles Elgood)