he Pontiff this month called for a ceasefire and asked God to “hurry up” to end the war.
In an open letter released yesterday, he praised Ukrainians’ resilience but said that their leaders should be preparing for peace.
“On them lies the duty to govern the country in tragic times and to make far-sighted decisions for peace and to develop the economy during the destruction of so much vital infrastructure,” he wrote.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will not negotiate with the Kremlin until it withdraws from all areas seized since 2014.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met for secret talks in the UAE last week to discuss deals that could move along prospects for broader peace negotiations, it has emerged.
The talks in Abu Dhabi focused on prisoner swaps and reopening an ammonia pipeline but came amid a push by the White House for Ukraine to join peace talks.
Reuters said the UAE alone had mediated the talks on November 17. “They discussed allowing Russia to resume ammonia exports in exchange for a prisoner swap that would release a large number of Ukrainian and Russian prisoners,” the news agency reported, quoting unnamed sources.
Kyiv and Moscow have not commented on the report, although on Wednesday Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said his officials hoped to unblock an ammonia pipeline running between Togliatti, in Russia, and Odesa.
Ammonia is a key ingredient in fertiliser, of which Russia is a key global producer. .
The Middle East has become an important intermediary in the war. In September, Saudi Arabia helped to negotiate a large prisoner swap.
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