Nur-Sultan, Nov 12 (IANS) Former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev called on Tuesday for a face-to-face meeting between Russia President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to discuss a settlement to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and proposed Kazakhstan as a neutral venue.
“I believe that a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents is needed,” Nazarbayev, who holds the title of leader of the Kazakh nation, said when speaking at the Astana Club political forum in the Kazakh capital, Efe news reported.
The former head of state indicated that he had already met with Zelenski and had spoken with Putin “on how to solve this problem (the conflict in eastern Ukraine).”
“We have talked about a face-to-face meeting. I think it is a good time. Zelensky has received great support from his people and express this will and resolve the issue,” he said.
Nazarbayev stressed that the heart of the issue lies in how to choose the leaders of the eastern regions in Ukraine and in the withdrawal of all armed groups.
“I already have Zelensky’s consent for a face-to-face meeting, and I have informed the President of Russia about it. We will see. If a neutral place is required, I proposed Kazakhstan,” he said.
Zelensky already said on October 10 that, although there are currently no plans for a meeting with Putin, a face-to-face meeting is necessary “if we want to end the war”, and he was also open to a meeting with his Russian counterpart to negotiate a new exchange of prisoners.
The Kazakh former president indicated that it would be wrong to think that Putin does not want the conflict in eastern Ukraine resolved.
“He wants peace to be established there. And we all perfectly understand that Russia does not need new territories but totally different things,” he explained.
Since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, in April 2014, Russia has denied taking part and has insisted that the Kiev Government must negotiate directly with the leaders of the self-proclaimed popular republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.