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Ukraine peace talks front and center at Switzerland conference

Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd (second from left left) appears next Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis (left), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (center), Ukraine's Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine Andriy Yermak (second from right), and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (right) during the the opening plenary session of the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, in Stansstad near Lucerne, Switzerland, on Saturday. Photo by Michael Buholzer/pool/EPA-EFE
1 of 5 | Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd (second from left left) appears next Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis (left), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (center), Ukraine's Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine Andriy Yermak (second from right), and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (right) during the the opening plenary session of the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, in Stansstad near Lucerne, Switzerland, on Saturday. Photo by Michael Buholzer/pool/EPA-EFE

June 15 (UPI) -- Finding a solution to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine took center stage as dozens of world leaders gathered for the first day of a major conference in Switzerland on Saturday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is using the peace conference to gather support for a 10-year plan he first conceived in 2022 that would see an end to hostilities between his country and Russia.

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"Everything that will be agreed upon at the summit today will be a part of the peace-making process that we all need," Zelensky told reporters ahead of the conference alongside Swiss President Viola Amherd.

"I believe that we will witness history being made here. Ukraine never wanted this war, it's a criminal and absolutely unprovoked aggression of Russia. And the only one who wanted it was Putin."

Russia and China do not have representatives at the Swiss conference.

The conference comes after Zelensky and U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on the sidelines of the annual G7 summit in Italy.

Ukraine signed a similar 10-year deal with Japan the same day.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said he was willing to enter peace talks, contingent on the complete withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. Ukraine would also be required to abandon its push to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO.

Vice President Kamala Harris is the American representative at the weekend conference being held at a resort near the historic alpine city of Lucerne.

Harris met with Zelensky on Saturday, while announcing a new aid package for Ukraine worth $1.5 billion.

"The Vice President underscored the United States' unwavering support for the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against ongoing Russian aggression," the White House said in a statement.

"The Vice President emphasized the U.S. support for Ukraine's efforts to secure a just and lasting peace, based on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, consistent with the UN Charter, and she commended widespread international support for Ukraine's efforts."

The new aid package is dedicated toward meeting humanitarian and energy demands as well as "civilian security."

Harris also highlighted Biden and Zelensky's agreement signed earlier in the week and American efforts to help enhance Ukraine's air defense capability.

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