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Malta expects more than 50 countries for third round of Ukraine peace talks

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High-ranking officials from more than 50 countries are expected in Malta this weekend for a third round of closed-door Ukrainian-backed peace talks where Kyiv aims to build support for its blueprint for a just and lasting peace.

The talks on Saturday and Sunday (28 and 29 October), which do not include Russia, will bring together national security advisers and foreign ministry officials to discuss Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point blueprint for a potential peace settlement, as Russia’s war enters its 21st month with no end in sight.

Zelenskyy’s ‘Ukraine Peace Formula’ calls for the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, withdrawal of Russian troops, protection of food and energy supplies, nuclear safety, and the release of all prisoners.

In-person attendees include G7 and European countries, as well as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, India and Turkey, according to the latest participant list, seen by Euractiv, while some countries like Brazil, Chile, and Thailand are expected to join the talks virtually.

China is not expected to join in, although the organisers had hoped Beijing might make a last-minute decision to attend, Euractiv understands.

Beijing, which had sent a delegate to the previous gathering in Jeddah, insists it is neutral and refuses to criticise Russia’s invasion, but is seen as crucial to those efforts since it is one of the few countries believed to have some influence on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Malta meeting, which follows similar gatherings in Copenhagen in June and in Jeddah in August, saw the number of attending countries grow from 15 to around 43 and now more than 50.

Initially, around 80 delegations had been invited, according to one person briefed on the organisation of the talks.

Ukrainian officials see the growing list of participants, which covers all continents, as a sign of global support for the process – and buy-in from those countries, particularly of the Global South, is widely seen as a key condition for holding a summit.

Zelenskyy had said he wished to organise a Global Peace Summit before the end of the year, but Ukrainian and Western officials admit this can only happen when there is certainty about the broadest possible support.

The series of high-ranking official meetings are seen as a platform for Ukraine to make their case directly to countries that have remained largely neutral on Russia’s war, especially those in the Global South.

But this weekend’s gathering especially is expected to help gauge Kyiv and the West’s ability to drum up steady and broad support as the Israel-Hamas war continues to dominate headlines, with some fearing it might move the focus away from Ukraine.

Western officials as well as the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said they were worried that accusations of double standards in the West’s view of the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East could result in fewer votes of support for Ukraine at the United Nations.

As part of the same process, Ukraine also aims to set up working groups around the main topics of the formula but those have so far gained little traction, people familiar with the matter said.

However, the Malta meeting could be the first one to draft and accept a joint declaration by the participating states and institutions, securing a first international consensus on the principles that would underpin the future process.

Both previous meetings have ended without a final declaration.

Discussions would focus on five key areas, food security, energy security, nuclear security, humanitarian issues and restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said this week.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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