Ukraine summons Vatican envoy over 'white flag' comments

(Reuters) -Ukraine's foreign ministry summoned the papal nuncio on Monday to express "disappointment" with Pope Francis' comments that Ukraine should "show the courage of the white flag" and open talks with Russia to end the two-year-old war.

The pontiff made the comments in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI that is due to be aired on March 20.

The papal ambassador to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, was told the pope should refrain from statements that "legalise the right of might and encourage further disregard for the norms of international law," a statement on the ministry's website said.

The statement said the pope "would be expected to send signals to the world community about the need to immediately join forces to ensure the victory of good over evil."

Ukraine, it said, "seeks peace like no other state. This peace, however, must be fair and based on the principles of the U.N. Charter and the peace formula proposed by the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy."

Zelenskiy rebuffed the pope's comments on Sunday. Although he did not refer to them directly, he said distant religious figures should not get involved in "virtual mediation between someone who wants to live and someone who wants to destroy you."

Zelenskiy's peace plan calls for a withdrawal of Russian troops, a return to Ukraine's 1991 borders, and due process to hold Russia accountable for its actions. Russia says it cannot hold any talks under such a premise.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella and Ron PopeskiEditing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O'Brien)