British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a “frank” conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, according to the prime minister’s spokesperson.
The two leaders discussed “a range of issues of mutual interest, including the situation in the Ukraine,” in what Johnson’s spokesperson called “a frank and candid conversation lasting almost an hour.”
They agreed to speak again soon, the spokesperson said.
Xi told Johnson that his country would play a "constructive role" in returning peace to Ukraine, according to a readout published by state media outlet Xinhua.
“Xi expounded China's principled position on Ukraine issue, stressing that the international community should truly promote peace talks, create conditions for the political settlement of the Ukrainian issue and push for Ukraine's return to peace at an early date. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard,” according to the Xinhua article.
Some more background: Beijing has refused to condemn Russia's attack on Ukraine but wants to avoid being impacted by the sanctions it has repeatedly denounced as an ineffective way of resolving the crisis.
Beijing gave its full backing last Wednesday to comments made earlier in the week by China's ambassador to Ukraine. "China will never attack Ukraine. We will help, especially economically," Fan Xianrong was quoted as saying in a news release from the Lviv regional government.
CNN also reported last week that Russia has asked China for military support, including drones, as well as economic assistance for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, according to two US officials. The requests came after the invasion, one of the officials said. That official declined to detail the Chinese reaction but indicated that the Chinese had responded. Both the Chinese and Russian governments publicly denied that the request happened.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday that the administration has not seen China provide military equipment to Russia since US President Joe Biden spoke with China’s President Xi Jinping last Friday.
China has also provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
CNN's Laura He contributed reporting to this post.