White House urges China's Xi to press Putin on Ukraine

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - The White House urged Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday to use his visit to Moscow this week to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and end Russia's war against Ukraine.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, told reporters the United States is concerned that Xi, currently on a trip to Moscow, will reiterate calls for a ceasefire that would leave Russian forces inside Ukrainian sovereign territory.

Kirby said Xi should speak with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy about the impact of the war on Ukraine.

The White House is seen from the top of the Washington Monument April 3, 2003. REUTERS/Molly Riley/File Photo

"We encourage President Xi to press President Putin directly on the need to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The world and China's neighbors will certainly be watching closely," he said.

Xi and Putin seem to be connected in "a bit of a marriage of convenience" rather than one of affection, Kirby said.

"These are two countries that have long chafed at U.S. leadership around the world," he said.

Reporting By Jeff Mason, Steve Holland and Jasper Ward Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler

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