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Ukraine's Zelenskiy dismisses pope's appeal for talks with Russia as 'virtual mediation'

Turkey’s President Erdogan and his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskiy hold a press conference in Istanbul

(Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday dismissed Pope Francis's call for talks with Russia as "virtual mediation" from a distance.

Zelenskiy, in his nightly video address, did not refer directly to Francis or his remarks, but said the pope's ideas had nothing to do with efforts by religious figures in Ukraine to help the country.

"They support us with prayer, with their discussion and with deeds. "This is indeed what a church with the people is," Zelenskiy said. "Not 2,500 km away, somewhere, virtual mediation between someone who wants to live and someone who wants to destroy you."

(Reporting by Ron Popeski and Nick Starkov; Editing by Josie Kao)