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Chinese shares open lower Friday******
BEIJING, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese stocks opened lower Friday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index down 0.04 percent to open at 3,519.28 points.。
The Shenzhen Component Index opened 0.06 percent lower at 14,569.93 points. Enditem。
Interview: Australian athletes cherish the opportunity at Beijing 2022, says Chef de Mission******
CANBERRA, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Australian athletes cherish the opportunity to compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, said Geoff Lipshut, Chef de Mission for the Australian Olympic Team.。
"Our athletes... traveled last season in very difficult circumstances around the world during COVID without vaccine then, so they had to be very health conscious. But all of them took it very seriously because they wanted to qualify to go to Beijing," said the former aerial skiing coach who had been to seven Olympics since Lillehammer in 1994.。
"I think going to Beijing and having that opportunity is the most important thing for each of the athletes," he told Xinhua in an interview.。
Lipshut also dismissed the call for a boycott of the Olympics by some western politicians.。
"Many athletes will have (only) one opportunity to go to the Olympic Games," he said.。
"We are going to do sports. That's what they've trained for 10, 15, 20 years. Their families and friends have sacrificed a lot to give these athletes an opportunity."
According to Lipshut, there is a "two-winter" scheme to help Australian athletes prepare for the Winter Olympics. "We have the southern winter here, and we have the northern winter overseas," he said.。
As a result, some Australian athletes are now training overseas in Europe and North America, while some had a chance to compete at the Beijing 2022 test events, including those for the luge, short track speed skating and sliding events.。
Bobsleigh pilot Bree Walker described the Olympic sliding track in Beijing as "amazing." "She said it's a fantastic sliding track. It has got a heated warm-up area. They've never seen a heated warm-up area before, so that's the first," said Lipshut, adding that the athletes enjoyed the experience there.。
Lipshut himself visited China before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 when the venues and infrastructure were still under construction. He also toured the Olympic village, where he said facilities were convenient, as well as the National Aquatics Center, which hosted the aquatics competition at the 2008 Summer Olympics and has been transformed into a curling venue.。
"It's a very famous pool here, because one of our athletes, Stephanie Rice, won three gold medals in this pool," he said. "So to see that as a curling venue will be amazing."
Lipshut expected to see the Winter Olympics leave a healthy legacy as well, with the venues being well used afterward for Chinese sports and youth.。
Australia has won 15 medals at Winter Olympic Games: five gold, five silver and five bronze, starting with a bronze in Lillehammer in 1994. In Pyeongchang, Australia grabbed two silver and a bronze medal.。
Lipshut said he believed that the "safe range" for the team would be between two and three medals, which will possibly come from freestyle and snowboard events.。
"One thing that's a bit challenging for us is that some of our athletes and coaches haven't been to the test events," he said.。
"And we haven't been to China as many times. We look forward to going there and, as long as we have a good opportunity, to training beforehand on the venue."
Yet there is something good for the TV audience. The time difference between and China and Australia is within three hours.。
"It's a nice contrast between China in winter and Australia in summer," said Lipshut. "That will be interesting also." Enditem。
Russia, Ukraine express willingness to negotiate amid int'l appeal for peace******
As military conflicts between Russia and Ukraine continue to intensify, both sides have expressed willingness to talk with each other to solve the crisis through dialogue.
Despite the sanctions imposed by some Western countries, there are still members of the international community calling for a peaceful solution to the ongoing problematic issue.
Negotiation possibility emerges
The Russian armed forces have disabled 211 military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine since the operation began on early Thursday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday night, up from 118 facilities reported in his morning briefing.
Konashenkov also announced on the same day that Russian forces have captured the Hostomel airfield in northwestern Kiev and blockaded the Ukrainian capital from the west, and will continue to perform tasks in the areas of other cities.
Russia has also taken full control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and military units of the two sides there have reached an agreement on the protection of the nuclear facilities and the sarcophagus.
"Fighting is going on all over Ukraine. Let's sit down at the negotiating table," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying on Friday, calling for talks to end the intense conflict.
Later Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to send a delegation to the Belarusian capital of Minsk for negotiations with Ukraine at the level of representatives of the defense ministry, the foreign ministry and the presidential administration.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a briefing that his country has no plan to occupy Ukraine and Moscow is ready to hold negotiations straight after the Ukrainian forces "lay down their arms."
The two sides are currently discussing a date and place of negotiations, according to Zelensky's press secretary Sergii Nykyforov, noting that "Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and about peace. This is our permanent position."
"The sooner negotiations begin, the more chances there will be to resume normal life," he said.
Some Western countries have announced sanctions against Putin, Lavrov, and some other senior Russian officials over the ongoing military operation in Ukraine, while Peskov noted that the sanctions were not painful for any representative of Russia's top leadership.
The Kremlin spokesman also told reporters that "retaliatory measures will follow," while the details have not been confirmed yet.
United Nations (UN) officials and global leaders are voicing concerns over the issue and calling for a peaceful solution facing the military conflicts and dispute of sanctions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that the situation "is not irreversible," appealing to all parties concerned for protecting civilians and upholding international humanitarian and human rights law.
Guterres also appointed Amin Awad, former official in the UN High Commissioner for Refugees with over 30 years of experience in field of humanitarian affairs, as UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine.
Abdulla Shahid, president of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), on Thursday called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and peaceful means to settle disputes.
"I call for an immediate ceasefire, deescalation of tensions and a firm return to diplomacy and dialogue," said the UNGA president in a statement.
Underscoring that the UN Charter is based on the principle of sovereign equality, Shahid called on all member states to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday that China firmly stands for respecting and safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and earnestly abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, during his phone talks with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell as well as Emmanuel Bonne, diplomatic counselor to French President Emmanuel Macron.
"The present situation is something we do not want to see," said Wang, stressing that China supports and encourages all diplomatic efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.
Cairo urges finding a political settlement to the crisis in a manner that preserves international security and stability, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, affirming the importance of upholding "dialogue and diplomatic solutions."
During his meeting with Putin in Moscow on Thursday, visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that conflict was not in anyone's interest, underlining Pakistan's belief that disputes should be settled through dialogue and diplomacy, according to a statement released by Khan's office.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said on Thursday that "everything must now be done to avoid further escalation and to protect lives."
Emphasizing that "peace comes first," Van der Bellen said the way to the negotiating table must be open to all sides.