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  4. Meloni embraces Zelensky after chastising Macron

Meloni embraces Zelensky after chastising Macron

Premier said inviting Ukraine president to Paris 'inopportune'

(ANSA) - ROME, FEB 9 - Premier Giorgia Meloni and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shook hands and embraced on Thursday as leaders gathered for the summit photo at the European Council meeting in Brussels.
    It is the first time Meloni, who was sworn in as Italy's first woman premier in October, and Zelensky have met face-to-face, although they have spoken to each other on the telephone.
    Meloni and Zelensky are set to have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit on Thursday.
    Earlier in the day Meloni said that French President Emmanuel Macron's decision to invite Zelensky to Paris before the summit was "inopportune". German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also took part in the talks with Zelensky in Paris.
    Our forces "must be united" Meloni said as she arrived at the summit.
    Meloni also stressed that "Italy is fully committed" to supporting Kyiv after the Russian invasion, saying "our contribution" is so comprehensive that it is "360 degrees".
    "We are aware that the Ukraine conflict involves us all," she added.
    "I think the best way to build an option of dialogue and peace is to maintain the forces on the field on a balanced level.
    "Supporting Ukraine is the best way to reach a possible negotiation. "Rome wants to be a lead player, including in the stage of reconstruction".
    Zelensky flew to Brussels together with Macron.
    When asked about Meloni's comments, Macron said he did not consider Wednesday's meeting to be out of place.
    "As you know, Germany and France have had a special role on the Ukraine question for eight years," he said.
    "I think it's up to Zelensky to choose the format he wants (for diplomatic talks)," he added. (ANSA).


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