By Alyssa McMurtry
OVIEDO, Spain (AA) - The Spanish government on Thursday announced that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will travel to China to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping late next week.
Less than two weeks after Xi was in Moscow meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sanchez said peace in Ukraine will be a key focus of his visit.
“It’s important to understand first-hand his (Xi’s) position on peace in Ukraine and let him know that it will be the Ukrainians who will establish the conditions of peace,” Sanchez told reporters on the sidelines of the European Council summit in Brussels.
He added that establishing a “stable and lasting peace” based on international rules that uphold territorial integrity will be essential.
Spain, a NATO member, has taken an extremely pro-Ukrainian position on the war, sending advanced weapons to Kyiv, including an upcoming shipment of Leopard battle tanks.
Xi, on the other hand, has remained close to Putin, without sending weapons to Moscow.
Earlier this week, the two leaders discussed China’s 12-point peace plan, which was heavily criticized by the allies of Ukraine. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the plan for a cease-fire would “effectively be supporting the ratification of Russian conquest.”
Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Manuel Albares said Thursday that China’s invitation for a state visit “shows the importance and international weight of Spain and its diplomacy” in these “complicated times.”
This year also marks 50 years of Spain’s relations with China. Finding ways to strengthen bilateral ties between Madrid and Beijing will be another key part of the talks, said Sanchez.