Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Jeddah on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

Jeddah:  Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky landed on Friday in Jeddah to attend an Arab League Summit, Saudi-owned Al Hadath TV reported.

Zelensky arrived on a French government plane. He is also due to attend the G7 leaders’ summit in the Japanese city of Hiroshima this weekend.

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"Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plays a significant role and we are ready to take our cooperation to a new level," he tweeted shortly after arrival.

Saudi Arabia said last year it was granting Ukraine $400 million in humanitarian aid after it faced heavy criticism from the United States over an OPEC+ decision to cut oil production, seen as helping Russia to refill its coffers by boosting prices.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has mediated in the Russia-Ukraine conflict before.

Last year he won diplomatic triumph when he secured the release of 10 foreigners captured by Russia in Ukraine. The move was apparently made possible by his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At a time when Russia’s war on the Ukraine has roiled global energy markets, the role the kingdom plays as the world’s largest oil exporter has grown in importance to both Washington and Moscow. A source told Reuters that it was an opportunity for the Ukrainian leader to lobby allies and countries that have remained neutral in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

With an expected Ukrainian offensive expected soon, the source said it was vital for Zelensky to continue to put the pressure on his allies at the G7 in terms of military support, the source said.

Zelensky may also seek to speak face-to-face with leaders from India, Indonesia and Brazil, who are also attending the meeting on Sunday, the source said. "Zelensky is giving everything," the source said.

The Saudis have offered to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, following a prisoner exchange deal they brokered last year.

Also, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad is in Saudi Arabia on Friday to attend the summit.

A beaming Assad was received by Deputy Governor of Mecca region Prince Badr bin Sultan and Arab League Secretary General Ahmad Abu Al Gheit as he arrived on Thursday in Jeddah, the host city.

Assad, accompanied by several other Syrian officials, was then escorted to the reception hall of the Royal terminal where he had a brief exchange with Prince Badr and Abu Al Gheit.

Assad was received by Deputy Governor of Mecca region Prince Badr bin Sultan on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Giant portraits of Saudi Arabia’s founder King Abdul Aziz, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman were hanging on the walls.

Assad is expected to address the summit later on Friday, along with other Arab leaders.

Ahead of the summit, the United States reiterated its opposition to normalisation of relations with Damascus.

“We do not believe that Syria should be (afforded) re-entry into the Arab League,” US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters in Washington, adding sanctions should not be lifted.

“As it related to normalization, we don’t support normalization with the Assad regime, and we don’t support our partners doing so.” But Patel added that “we have a number of shared objectives” such as bringing home Austin Tice, a former US Marine and journalist who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012.