Dozens of countries sign up for Ukraine peace summit, Switzerland says

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Swiss Confederation President Viola Amherd speak with reporters in Berlin, Germany, about a planned Ukraine peace summit, on May 15, 2024. [Reuters]

A summit that Switzerland hopes will pave the way for a peace process in Ukraine has drawn delegations from more than 50 countries, Swiss President Viola Amherd said Wednesday.

The neutral Swiss government was seeking a broad-based turnout from different parts of the world, and 160 invitations were sent, Amherd said at a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after the two met in Berlin.

Switzerland wants to persuade more countries from the so-called Global South as well as China to sign up, she added.

"This work is continuing at full speed," Amherd said.

Countries in South America, Africa and the Middle East were among those that confirmed they would come, according to Amherd, who in January agreed to host the summit at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine more than two years ago, has not been invited. Diplomats and foreign policy experts say the talks, due to be held near the Swiss city of Lucerne, are likely to focus on how to mitigate risks stemming from Moscow's invasion.

Roughly half of the countries that said they would take part were non-European, and the list of attendees was likely to keep changing until the last minute, Amherd said.

Zelenskyy, in a post on the Ukrainian presidential website, said the leaders of Georgia, Liechtenstein and Malawi told him they would be represented at the summit.

Last week, Zelenskyy said Cape Verde had become the first African country to agree to attend.

Amherd was also asked whether Switzerland would be prepared to hold off taking delivery of a Patriot missile defense system it is due to receive from the U.S. to help Ukraine get one sooner, following a German proposal.

The Swiss president said that her Cabinet had not yet debated the question, but that she was in discussion with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius about it.