Saudi-hosted talks on the Ukraine crisis kicked off in Jeddah on Saturday, Saudi state-run Al-Ekhbariya television station reported.
The two-day meeting is part of a diplomatic push by Ukraine to build support beyond its core Western backers by reaching out to Global South countries that have been reluctant to take sides in the conflict.
Ukraine and its allies hope the meeting in Jeddah of national security advisers and other senior officials from some 40 countries – but not Russia – will agree on key principles on how to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The forum excludes Russia, but the Kremlin said it will “keep an eye” on the meeting. China, which has firm ties with Russia, said on Friday it will send Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui for the talks.
China has kept close economic and diplomatic ties with Russia since the conflict began and has rejected calls to condemn Moscow.
Indian National Security Adviser Shri Ajit Doval has also arrived in Jeddah for the talks, the Indian embassy in Riyadh said on social media on Saturday.
Like China, India has kept close ties with Russia and refused to condemn it for the war. It has ramped up imports of Russian oil.
Western officials and analysts said Saudi diplomacy had been important in securing China’s presence at the talks.
Riyadh has worked with Moscow in recent years on oil market policy and, along with Turkey, it helped mediate a prisoner swap
between Ukraine and Russia last year.
Zelenskyy attended an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia in May where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman voiced readiness to help mediate in the war.
Saudi Arabia has also built a closer relationship with China over the past year, giving an effusive welcome to Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visited Riyadh in December, and seeking to join the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In March, Beijing brokered a resumption of ties between Saudi Arabia and its arch regional foe Iran.