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Fighting rages as Russia******
Russia and Ukraine conducted their first round of negotiations in Belarus on Monday, with both sides failing to reach a clear breakthrough.
The long-awaited negotiations between delegations from Russia and Ukraine were held in the Gomel region in Belarus and lasted for five hours.
Headed by presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, Moscow's delegation was formed by representatives from the defense and foreign affairs ministries, among others.
Defense Minister Olexiy Reznikov and the deputy head of the ministry of foreign affairs were among the participants from the Ukrainian side.
Before the negotiations, representatives from the Russian side said a key aim of the consultations would be to achieve peace.
While the talks were carrying on, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron. Putin reiterated that a settlement would only be possible if Russia's security concerns were considered.
Putin said it was important to recognize "Russia's sovereignty over Crimea," as well as the country's commitment to solving the tasks of Ukraine's "demilitarization and denazification," and the issue of Ukraine's neutral status, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Ukraine's key demands were an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian troops, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
After the consultations, Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation, said that the next round of peace talks will take place on the Belarusian-Polish border in the coming days.
Medinsky said the delegations would now head back to their capitals to further discuss all negotiation positions and meet again for the next round of negotiations.
The Ukrainian army said on Monday that the situation in Kiev was still under its control.
As the Ground Forces of the Ukrainian army posted on Facebook, Ukrainian forces still had control over Kiev, having defeated repeated attempts by Russian troops to storm into the outskirts of the capital at night.
But pictures released by US satellite company Maxar showed Russian tanks and fuel trucks stretching for 60 kilometers along a highway and bearing down on Kiev from the north.
Valery Zaluzhny, chief commander of the armed forces of Ukraine, said on Sunday on Facebook that Ukraine has mobilized about 100,000 troops amid the conflict with Russia.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian forces were trying to lay siege to Kiev and Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city near the Russian border in eastern Ukraine.
Russian troops fired artillery at Kiev, Kharkiv and the southern port city of Mariupol overnight while the Ukrainian side shot down Russian military planes around the capital, Arestovych said in a briefing.
Ukrainian authorities also reported 70 soldiers killed in a rocket attack in a town between Kiev and Kharkiv.
Russian forces have destroyed Ukraine's flagman aircraft An-225 Mriya, the world's biggest cargo plane, the state defense conglomerate Ukroboronprom said on Sunday on Telegram.
Kharkiv bore the brunt of the attack on Monday. Officials say dozens of people were killed and injured by missile strikes that hit civilian areas.
As the fighting continues, Ukrainians have been flooding into border regions, hoping to find shelter and safety.
Hungarians living in rural villages came together to help people fleeing Ukraine.
"What you see here is a response to all the difficulties, problems and fears that are present in Ukraine," Gusztav Furedi, a volunteer with a Hungarian charity, told Xinhua news agency.
Volunteers set up reception points, welcoming the refugees with hot drinks and food and organizing free ongoing transport.
On the first day of Russia's military operation, Poland's border guard said 29,000 people had come to Poland. This figure has now swelled to more than 100,000.
Holding her one-year-old son in one arm, Julia, who declined to give her full name, picked up convenience food from volunteers. Her older son plunged his head into a box full of plush toys donated by local people.
Julia's family lives in a small town in western Ukraine, while her husband works at a Skoda car factory in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. After the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, she decided to go to her husband's place.
Her father and brother drove her to the border area, the sounds of explosions heard along the way. She walked the last 20km with her two sons to Poland and was finally reunited with her husband, who came to pick her up.
"The journey was difficult and dangerous, but now we are finally safe," said Julia.
Georgian PM signs application for EU membership******
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Thursday signed the application for European Union membership on behalf of the country, calling it a "historic day" in his address to citizens.
"It is a historic day for Georgia. Application for EU Membership is yet another milestone on the path of European integration of Georgia," said Garibashvili, stressing that the accession of Georgia into a common European family has been a long dream for Georgian people.
The Prime Minster's move follows Wednesday's statement by Irakli Kobakhidze, the ruling Georgian Dream party chairman, that the country will "immediately" apply for fast-track EU membership.
The application will soon be submitted to the EU, according to the Georgian official.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday also signed an official appeal for the European Union asking for an accession of Ukraine via a new special procedure.
Int'l film festival kicks off in China's Shanxi******
TAIYUAN, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- The fifth Pingyao International Film Festival opened on Tuesday in the 2,700-year-old city of Pingyao, north China's Shanxi Province.
A total of 46 movies from over 30 countries or regions will be shown at the festival. Almost a third of them will have their world premieres in Pingyao, which is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
The movies to be screened during the festival include Cannes Award-winning "Prayers for the stolen," Belgian director Laura Wandel's "Playground," and renowned Chinese filmmaker Xie Fei's "Song of Tibet."
The audience will have the opportunity to participate in producing artificial-intelligence films, selecting a film genre and storyline then allowing the algorithm to act as the screenwriter and editor, producing movies of any length.
Chinese director Tsui Hark will narrate the works of Alfred Hitchcock in a dialogue activity to be held during the film exhibition.
Pingyao International Film Festival focuses on discovering and promoting outstanding works by young directors from developing countries, with the aim of strengthening the exchanges between filmmakers from various countries, according to the organizer. Enditem
Ukraine, Russia conduct first prisoner swap******
Ukraine and Russia conducted the first prisoner swap since the start of the conflict, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Thursday.
Ten Ukrainian prisoners-of-war held by the Russian military were released in exchange for ten Russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian forces, Vereshchuk said on Facebook.
Besides, Ukraine handed over 11 civilian Russian sailors, who were rescued from a sunken ship near Odesa to Russia in exchange for 19 Ukrainian civilian sailors, Vereshchuk said.
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