Hungary offers to host Russia-Ukraine talks

By: AFP
Published: 11:59 AM, 26 Feb, 2022
Hungary offers to host Russia-Ukraine talks
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Hungary said Friday that it had offered to host talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators on the second day of Russia's full-scale invasion of its former Soviet neighbour.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that he had spoken by telephone to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and to Andriy Yermak, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

Budapest, the Hungarian capital, "can serve as a secure location for both the Russian and Ukrainian negotiating delegations," Szijjarto said in a video posted on his official Facebook page.

"Neither rejected (the proposal), both were grateful, and are considering it," he said.

"I sincerely hope that within hours or days there will be an agreement about the start of talks," he added.

Hungary, a member of the European Union and of NATO, has cultivated a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin under its nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Earlier on Friday, the Kremlin said Putin was ready to send a delegation to Belarus for talks with Ukraine

Lavrov said Moscow was ready to talk but only if Ukraine's armed forces "lay down their arms", adding that "nobody intends to occupy Ukraine".

But the United States swiftly dismissed the offer.

"Now we see Moscow suggesting diplomacy take place at the barrel of a gun. This is not real diplomacy," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Orban on Thursday condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.