Vatican offers to help talks between Ukraine and Russia
From CNN’s Hada Messia in Rome and Sharon Braithwaite in London
The Vatican is willing “to facilitate” a dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to end the war, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Monday.
Parolin, who is the number one ranking Vatican official after Pope Francis, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that he believes that “there is still and always room for negotiation. It is never too late.”
Parolin added that the Vatican has been following with “great attention the events in Ukraine,” and that it offers “its willingness to facilitate dialogue with Russia, is always ready to help the parties to resume this path.”
Pope Francis once again on Sunday spoke on the conflict during his weekly Angelus prayer and asked the faithful to pray and invited “all to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine.”
Belarusian minister welcomes Ukrainian and Russian delegations for talks, saying they should feel “completely safe”
Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei welcomed delegations from Ukraine and Russia for talks on Monday, assuring delegates that they should feel “completely safe.”
“Dear friends, the President of Belarus asked me to welcome you and to provide everything for your work, as agreed with President Zelensky and President Putin. You may feel completely safe here. This is our sacred duty,” Makei said.
“President Lukashenko sincerely hopes that, during today’s talks, it will be possible to find solutions to all the questions of this crisis. All Belarusians are praying for this. Any proposals, in terms of organizing today’s meeting, will be considered and absolutely fulfilled,” he added. “We look forward to the results.”
The exact location of the talks between Russia and Ukraine on Monday has been kept secret for security reasons.
The talks are in Belarus, but the only location that has been announced is that they are on the banks of the Pripyat river in the Gomel region of Belarus.
Ukraine-Russia talks start in Belarus
Russian Presidential Aide Vladimir Medinsky, left, and Russian State Duma member Leonid Slutsky, followed by the Ukrainian delegation arrive for Russian-Ukrainian talks in Belarus on February 28. (Alexandr Kryazhev/ Sputnik/AP)
Talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Belarus began just before 1 p.m. Ukrainian time (6 a.m. ET) on Monday.
Ukraine’s delegation includes several high-ranking officials, but not Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky himself.
The country demanded an “immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops” in the lead-up to the meeting.