Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will join discussions with leaders of the Group of Seven major industrialized democracies in Japan's Hiroshima, officials said Friday, as the multilateral forum seeks to put more pressure on Russia to end its war against its neighboring country.
While confirming the plan, Ukrainian presidential office chief Andriy Yermak also said Zelenskyy will meet bilaterally with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the three-day summit through Sunday, Ukrainian media reported.
Zelenskyy left Saudi Arabia's Jeddah on Friday after attending the Arab League Summit, the country's state-run media said. U.S. and British media reported Zelenskyy will arrive in Hiroshima on Saturday evening and attend a G-7 session the following day.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, confirmed on state television that Zelenskyy will attend the summit in person.
Danilov said that the president's "physical presence" at the gathering is essential for Ukraine to defend its national interests.
It will be Zelenskyy's first trip to Asia since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February last year. He has recently traveled to Italy, Germany, France and Britain for talks with their leaders, stepping up calls for more support for Ukraine as its soldiers need more equipment ahead of a planned counter-offensive.
"It's important for the G-7 leaders to hear directly from them about conditions on the ground," White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Hiroshima, without confirming Zelenskyy's planned trip.
"He was always supposed to participate. It's certainly that participation in whatever form it takes shows that the G-7 takes seriously our mutual commitments to Ukraine's self-defense," Kirby said.
The development comes just a day after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the chair of the G-7 summit, told reporters that Zelenskyy would participate in the discussions online on Sunday and would not be part of a session dedicated to the Ukraine war on Friday for domestic reasons.
When Kishida made a surprise visit to Kyiv on March 21, he said that Zelenskyy had promised to participate online in the summit.
The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as the European Union, are now in the western Japan city that was devastated by a U.S. atomic bombing in 1945, amid lingering fears that Russia could use nuclear weapons in the ongoing war.
Some countries which do not belong to the grouping and are seen as being reluctant to side with Ukraine, such as India and Brazil, have also been invited to Hiroshima as guests.
"Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not tire in our commitment to mitigate the impact of Russia's illegal actions on the rest of the world," the leaders said in a statement on Ukraine after finishing talks on the first day of the summit.
The G-7 leaders agreed to roll out more measures meant to curtail Russia's ability to wage its war against Ukraine.