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Jody Thomas, national security and intelligence advisor, on June 1.Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

Jody Thomas, the national security adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is leading a Canadian delegation to Saudi Arabia for weekend talks among 40 countries trying to find a peaceful settlement to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Canada only recently patched up relations with Saudi Arabia, and no Canadian cabinet ministers will be attending. But the event, which will take place in Jeddah, is not designed for cabinet ministers. The invitations are for national security advisers or their equivalents, similar to a previous round of talks in Copenhagen at the end of June.

Ms. Thomas will be accompanied by staff from Global Affairs Canada, a senior government source said. The Globe and Mail is not naming the source because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Canada’s position remains that Russia must withdraw troops from Ukraine, including the Donbas and Crimea, and end all aggression against Ukrainians, the source said.

The federal government is supportive of this peace effort in part because the coalition of countries that is coming together includes more than the core Western countries that are ardent backers of Ukraine, the source said, such as India, Brazil and South Africa. Ukraine aims to bring these countries into a larger coalition of diplomatic support.

China said on Friday that it would also send a senior official to the talks, but the forum will exclude Russia.

Ukrainian and Western diplomats hope attendees at the meeting in Jeddah will agree on key principles for a future peace settlement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday he hoped the initiative would lead to a “peace summit” of leaders from around the world this fall to endorse the principles, based on his own 10-point formula for a settlement. That formula includes respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the withdrawal of Russian troops. Both are anathema to Moscow, which claims to have annexed occupied Ukrainian territory forever.

Russian, Ukrainian and other international officials say there is no prospect of direct peace talks between Ukraine and Russia at the moment. The war continues to rage, and Kyiv is trying to reclaim territory through a counteroffensive.

Earlier this week, the Kremlin said it would keep an eye on the Jeddah meeting. It also reiterated Moscow’s position that Russia currently sees no grounds for peace talks with Ukraine.

With a report from Reuters

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