Ukraine's Zelenskyy meets pope, Italian leaders in push for peace
Baku, May 14, AZERTAC
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday sought support for his peace proposal as he held talks with Pope Francis in Rome and met Italian leaders in his first visit to Italy since the start of the war, according to Anadolu Agency.
In an interview on Italian state TV RAI wrapping up his visit, Zelenskyy said he had been honored to meet the pope, who has repeatedly offered to play a role in possible negotiations to stop the war started by Russia’s offensive in Ukraine a year ago.
But the Ukrainian leader also stressed that since “the war is in Ukraine, it has to be Ukraine's plan" to lead to peace, asking the pontiff to support the 10-point platform he has been pushing at an international level.
A Vatican statement said that during a 40-minute-long private audience on Saturday afternoon, Zelenskyy and Francis discussed the need to help the "innocent victims" of the conflict.
The two addressed "the humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine caused by the ongoing war," the statement said, adding that the pontiff reassured Zelenskyy “of his constant prayers, witnessed by his many public appeals and continuous invocation to the Lord for peace."
“The pope stressed, in particular, the urgent need for 'human gestures' towards the most fragile people, innocent victims of the conflict," the Vatican said.
In a tweet following the talks, Zelenskyy said he also mentioned the issue of the thousands of children who have been “deported to Russia” and need to be returned home.
In April, returning from a trip to Hungary, Francis told reporters that the Vatican was involved in a behind-the-scenes peace mission, without providing details. But both Russia and Ukraine said they had no knowledge of the initiative.
Earlier on Saturday, Zelenskyy obtained full support from both Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who met with him separately, promising complete military and financial backing. Mattarella and Meloni also reiterated their will to champion Ukraine’s bid for full European Union membership.
"The future of Ukraine is a future of peace and freedom,” Meloni told reporters in joint statements with Zelenskyy. “And it's the future of Europe, a future of peace and freedom, for which there are no other possible solutions." Meloni has already stressed on several occasions that Ukraine is moving forward with a plan of reforms required by the EU Commission despite the war.
The Italian premier voiced assurances that Italy will back Kyiv “360 degrees for all the time necessary and beyond.”
After leaving Rome, Zelenskyy is expected to head to Berlin on Sunday for his first visit to Germany since the war began.
Text contains orthographic mistake
Enter your note