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US says Vice President Harris will attend Ukraine Peace Summit in Switzerland

Vice President Kamala Harris, pictured in January, 2022. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The White House said Vice President Kamala Harris and national-security adviser Jake Sullivan will attend a Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland this month following public pleas by Kyiv for the United States – and President Joe Biden, in particular – to participate in the June 15-16 event.

The White House said in a June 3 statement that the vice president “will underscore the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to supporting Ukraine’s effort to secure a just and lasting peace, based on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the principles of the UN Charter.”

It added that Harris “will reaffirm support for the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against ongoing Russian aggression.”

The announcement comes following weeks of pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelenskiy for Biden to attend the summit, in which at least 107 countries have confirmed their participation.

The White House has said Biden will bypass the summit because of a major fund-raising event — hosted by Hollywood stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts and including former President Barack Obama — as he prepares for a November election in which he is likely to face off against former President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, Russian strikes on Ukraine’s Kharkiv and Donetsk regions killed three civilians, including a 12-year-old boy, on June 3, regional officials reported, as Zelenskiy continued an Asian tour with an unannounced visit to the Philippines.

Russian forces early on June 3 shelled the village of Mykhailyivka in the Pokrovskiy district of the eastern Donetsk region, Governor Vadym Filashkin said on Telegram.

Filashkin said two people were killed and another person was wounded.

“Among the dead is a 12-year-old boy,” Filashkin said. “In the morning, the Russians dropped a guided aerial bomb on the village, and an hour and a half later they repeated the attack. At least five houses were damaged.”

In the northeast, one Ukrainian civilian was killed and two others were wounded in at least five rocket attacks launched by Russia on the town of Slobozhanske, south of the city of Kharkiv, on June 3, regional Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram.

“A recreational complex was hit, one civilian was killed. Two civilians, a man and a woman, were wounded,” Synyehubov said.

Russian forces over the past several weeks have intensified attacks on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and located some 34 kilometers from the border.

In a missile attack on May 31, on the city’s Novobavar district, nine people were killed and several others were wounded.

Zelenskiy arrived in the Philippines on June 3 from Singapore, where he attended the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit, and met with Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos.

“We discussed the inaugural Global Peace Summit and the importance of Southeast Asian countries being represented there. I am pleased that the Philippines will participate in the summit,” Zelenskiy wrote on X.

In Singapore, Zelenskiy met with foreign leaders on the final day of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit on June 2, where he sought to rally international support ahead of the Swiss peace conference.

Zelenskiy and Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov met in Singapore for more than an hour with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin following this week’s U.S. easing of restrictions on the use of its weapons by Kyiv to publicly permit Ukraine to hit targets inside Russia.

Serhiy Nykyforov, Zelenskiy’s press secretary, said on June 3 that a total of 107 countries and international organizations have confirmed their participation in the summit so far.

Nykyforov told Ukrainian television that in Singapore, Zelenskiy met with several foreign leaders who confirmed their participation in the summit.