(Beijing) French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he wanted to chart a common path with China on peace in Ukraine ahead of his meeting in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

The two leaders were to hold a press conference after their talks.

Earlier, French officials said President Macron would ask Xi Jinping to use China’s influence with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to promote peace in Ukraine, but the Elysee chief did not expect any major change in China’s position.

Presidents Xi and Putin said last week that their governments had “boundless friendship” ahead of Moscow’s February 2022 attack on Ukraine. Beijing declined to criticize the Kremlin but tried to appear neutral and called for a ceasefire and peace talks.

Xi’s government sees Russia as a source of energy and a partner in opposing what both see as US dominance in global affairs. China is also the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas, helping to prop up Kremlin revenues in the face of Western sanctions.

Emmanuel Macron said during a meeting with the number two of the Chinese Communist Party, Premier Li Qiang, that he wanted to talk about Ukraine, but also about all the major conflicts and difficult situations in the world. “The ability to share a common analysis and build a common path is key,” he said.

Premier Li argued there would likely be a broad consensus between Presidents Macron and Xi, but gave no indication of Beijing’s willingness to pressure Moscow to make peace.

During this meeting, the French president was accompanied by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in a demonstration of European unity in relations with Beijing.

On Wednesday, the 31 NATO member countries, including Canada, spoke of serious consequences if China began to send arms and ammunition to Russia. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has clarified that giving lethal aid would be a historic mistake.