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African Leaders In Ukraine For Peace Mission Amidst Russian Shelling

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KYIV: A delegation of African leaders began a peace mission in Kyiv on Friday, undeterred by what Ukraine said was a volley of Russian missiles intended to greet them in the capital.

At least two explosions rocked the capital but mayor Vitali Klitschko said they were caused by air defences. He reported no deaths or big damage in the city but emergency services said four people, including a child, were hurt in the Kyiv region.

The peace delegation, including leaders from South Africa, Senegal, Zambia, the Comoros and Egypt, met defence ministry representatives ahead of talks planned later on Friday with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The leaders are due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on Saturday and, with Kyiv and Moscow courting the Global South, see a chance to mediate in a war that has hit African countries by disrupting grain and other food supplies.

“The mission is proceeding well and as planned,” the South African presidency said on Twitter after the air strike.

The leaders are seeking agreement on a series of “confidence building measures”, but Kyiv has said its own peace initiative must be the basis of any settlement and has launched a counteroffensive to push back Russian occupying forces.

The Kremlin, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022, has played down the chances of meaningful peace talks with Kyiv. It says conditions for a peace process are not in place, but that it is ready to listen and is open to outside initiatives.

The African leaders, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Senegalese President Macky Sall, began their trip by visiting the town of Bucha, outside Kyiv. Ukraine says Russian occupiers carried out executions, rapes and torture in Bucha, and international investigators are collecting evidence of war crimes. Russia denies the allegations.

SOURCE: REAUTERS

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