Ukraine rejects Iraqi offer to mediate talks with Russia

4/17/2023 2:13:46 PM
 Iraq's Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein (R) meets with his Ukranian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Baghdad on April 17, 2023. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP
Iraq on Monday offered to mediate between Ukraine and Russia to try and find an end to the war in Europe, but Ukraine’s top diplomat rejected the offer during a rare visit to Baghdad.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reiterated his country’s position that it would not engage in any peace talks unless Russia withdraws from all Ukrainian territory.

The Kremlin wants Kyiv to acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, which Moscow took over in 2014, and to also recognize September’s annexation of the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine has rejected those demands and insists it won’t hold talks with Russia until Moscow’s troops pull back from all occupied territories.

In Iraq, Kuleba met with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein. It was the first visit by a Ukrainian official to Baghdad since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the first visit by a Ukrainian foreign minister in 11 years.

Hussein pointed to Iraq’s years of experience with war and conflict, as well as with hosting negotiations between hostile parties — such as the recent Saudi-Iran talks.

Baghdad had hosted several rounds of the talks between Riyadh and Tehran before the negotiations broke down. They later resumed with China as mediator, resulting in last month’s announcement that the two regional rivals would restore diplomatic relations.

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