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90 countries will attend the Swiss-hosted peace summit in Ukraine, which Russia denounces


BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Nearly 90 countries and organizations, half of them from Europe, have confirmed they will attend the Swiss-hosted Peace summit in Ukraine despite Russia’s refusal to participate in the conference, the Swiss president said on Monday.

Viola Amherd told reporters in the Swiss capital that the summit, on Saturday and Sunday, will aim to a path to possible peace almost 28 months after the Russian troops Ukraine invaded and the war that continues.

“This is not propaganda,” Amherd said. “This is about the basics of Switzerland’s humanitarian aid… and to start a dialogue.”

The Swiss president added that most of the participants – about half of whom will be represented at the level of heads of state or government – are country leaders, but that “a handful” come from organizations such as the United Nations.

Some, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, are expected to attend the summit at the Buergenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne.

About 160 invitations have been sent out and Amherd said it was not a “disappointment” for the Swiss government that fewer than 100 have so far announced participation in the first phase of the peace process.

Swiss authorities said the final list of participants was expected on Friday, but key developing countries such as Turkey, South Africa and Brazil did not indicate whether they would attend. India, they said, will participate, but it is not clear at what level.

Brazil and China said they would not participate unless both sides — including Russia — were at the table, Swiss officials said. Beijing has been one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main supporters since the start of the war.

Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis also addressed reporters, saying Switzerland has repeatedly recognized that without Russia there can be no peace process. “The question is not if Russia will join in, the question is when.”

He also said Switzerland is in regular contact with authorities in Moscow about the conference.

Ukraine helped coordinate the summit, and President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to attend. Cassis said Swiss officials had to weigh considerations that Ukraine might not have attended if Russia had been represented.

Swiss officials say the conference aims to set a course for “lasting peace” in Ukraine, reach a “common understanding” on how to get there, and draw up a “road map” on how both sides will engage in the talks could be. Nuclear safety, humanitarian aid and food security are also on the summit’s agenda.

As many as 4,000 military personnel will be deployed to provide security and support air transport and surveillance and roll out security fencing and steel wire for the event, officials said, adding that an increase in cyber attacks was noted in the run-up to the summit . but gave no details.

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