China is willing to play a “constructive role” in encouraging peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Chinese President Xi Jinping told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a phone call on Friday, state media reported. The call between the two leaders came a day after Johnson travelled to Brussels for a series of crisis meetings between members of Nato, the Group of Seven and the European Union over the Russian war in Ukraine. State news agency Xinhua reported that Xi stressed to Johnson the need for the international community to encourage peace talks and help bring a political settlement to the war . Xi said China was willing to play a “constructive role” in this regard. “The leaders discussed a range of issues of mutual interest – including the situation in Ukraine,” No 10 Downing Street said in a statement. “It was a frank and candid conversation lasting almost an hour. They agreed to speak again soon.” Xinhua reported that Xi and Johnson discussed that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations and that the relationship has witnessed continuous growth despite some ups and downs. Xi noted that trade volume between the countries has increased from US$300 million to US$100 billion, with two way-investment stock increasing to US$50 billion. Johnson also expressed sympathy to the families of victims of the China Eastern Airlines crash, China’s worst aviation disaster in more than a decade. Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday’s flurry of summits helped “concentrate minds” to China’s position on Russia. Johnson attended the Nato and G7 summits on Thursday, with both groups warning third countries against supporting the Russian invasion. The Nato statement referred to China by name. Biden visits Poland after unveiling plan to wean Europe off Russian gas US President Joe Biden attended the first 90 minutes of a European Council meeting on Thursday evening, speaking at length about his discussions with Xi last week. He told EU leaders that “Xi does not see Putin as an equal and has doubts about where the Russia-China relationship can go”, according to a diplomat familiar with the discussions. Biden said the EU needed to deliver “clear messaging on support for Russia” during the EU-China summit next Friday, the source said, during which Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will speak by video link with leaders of the European Council and Commission. A second diplomat said Biden used the meeting to “rally support with Europeans” for his Indo-Pacific strategy, broadly seen as a tool for countering China’s influence in the region. Biden also said he warned Xi last week of the commercial consequences of backing Russia. “I made it clear to him, I made no threats, but I made it clear to him … made sure he understood the consequences of him helping Russia, as had been reported, and as was expected,” Biden said at a news conference. “China understands its economic future is more closely tied to the West than it is to Russia.” Compared with his first European trip as president last summer, where he tried to herd reluctant leaders into a coalition to tackle China, Biden met a more receptive group this time. “If China helps Russia then the sanctions won’t work as we want them to work, so China is a major player. So we have to make sure that China is on the right side of history on this war,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in Brussels this week.