EU calls on Australia to attend Ukraine peace talks

The European Union has urged Australia to attend a peace summit in Switzerland to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ambassadors from the EU and member states issued the call to Australia’s foreign affairs department on Tuesday, a European official confirmed.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is yet to decide on attending the mid-June summit, his department’s deputy secretary Graham Fletcher told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.

“The invitation has been received and it’s under consideration,” Mr Fletcher said.

“An announcement will be made in due course.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been contacted for comment.

The last time the prime minister spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania in July 2023, assistant secretary Craig Chittick said.

Ukrainian ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko urged Mr Albanese or a high-level minister to attend the summit.

“Australia has a voice of reason in the international community that goes back in history,” he told AAP.

“The Australian voice needs to be present in a definitive way at the summit for peace in Switzerland, which is best achieved by a cabinet minister who is a member of the National Security Committee.”

The invitation is aimed at high-level ministers, chiefly the prime minister, deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

Members of the Group of Seven and Group of 20 forums, the EU and United Nations have been invited.

The opposition strongly supports Mr Albanese’s attendance at the summit, coalition foreign spokesman Simon Birmingham said.

“I appreciate sometimes competing demands on the prime minister’s time and scheduling of matters but this should be a senior cabinet representation at a meeting as significant as the Ukraine peace summit,” he said.

“Other significant world leaders have already made their commitments and it seems remarkable that Australia is so slow to have made a decision on our position.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin would “personally applaud” a decision from US President Joe Biden not to attend the summit, Mr Zelenskiy said as he tries to garner support for the talks.

Mr Myroshnychenko is travelling to Kiribati, Tonga and Fiji to try to rally support from the Pacific island nations.

Australia in April pledged an extra $100 million in support for Ukraine when Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles visited the war-torn nation.

It brought Australia’s total contributions to more than $1 billion since Russia’s invasion, including about $880 million of military assistance.


Dominic Giannini
(Australian Associated Press)


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