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Erdogan, Putin agree to hold next round of Russia******
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Sunday agreed to hold the next round of Russia-Ukraine negotiations in Turkey's Istanbul city, the Turkish presidency said.
The two leaders had a phone conversation on Sunday and discussed the latest situation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the negotiation process, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
The two leaders "agreed that the next meeting of the negotiation teams of Russia and Ukraine will be held in Istanbul," the statement said.
During the conversation, Erdogan told Putin that a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine must be achieved as soon as possible and the humanitarian situation in the region should be improved, adding that Turkey would continue to "contribute in every possible way during this process."
Earlier on Sunday, David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, said the next round of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia will take place next week in Turkey.
"Today, at the video talks, it was decided to hold the next live round by two delegations in Turkey on March 28-30," Arakhamia wrote on Facebook.
Meanwhile, head of Russia's negotiation team Vladimir Medinsky said the face-to-face talks will take place on March 29-30.
Ukrainian and Russian delegations have held three rounds of peace talks in-person in Belarus since February 28, and the fourth one started on March 14 in a format of video conference.
Previously, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, met in a resort town of Turkey's southern province of Antalya on March 10.
The meeting, held on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomatic Forum, was the first high-level talks between Moscow and Kiev since Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24.
During the meeting, the two sides failed to make progress on a ceasefire but agreed to continue negotiations over the conflict.
Athens Marathon to return this weekend after pandemic break******
ATHENS, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Greece is set to host the 38th Athens classic marathon race and parallel courses this weekend after last year's break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers told a press conference here on Wednesday.。
A total of 30,000 runners will participate in the 42km course and the 10km and 5km races under strict application of the safety protocol for sports events, Sofia Sakorafa, President of the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS), said.。
Only the fully vaccinated runners and the runners with proof of recovery from COVID-19 until 15 days before their kit collection from the registration center can participate in the 2021 Athens Marathon event, according to the organizers who also include Attica Region, the Municipalities of Athens and Marathon and the Hellenic Olympic Committee.。
The shorter distance races will be held on Saturday and the 42km race on Sunday.。
Despite challenges and limitations due to the pandemic, "it (the Athens marathon) remains an emblematic race for every long-distance race lover," she stressed.。
That is why in recent years, organizers have added the word "authentic" in the annual event's title to highlight that it is distinguished from all other races because this is where everything started 25 centuries ago.。
As far as the organizers are concerned, the Athens marathon allows runners to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the legendary ancient soldier Pheidippides who first ran the 42 km route from the battlefield of Marathon beach to Athens in 490 BC to inform Athenians of the victory against Persian forces. According to the legend, he collapsed and died of exhaustion after making the announcement.。
Since the revival of the Olympic Games and the Marathon race in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, thousands of runners have run the authentic course. A new record of 60,000 participants from 105 countries and regions was set in 2019.。
Last year the event was canceled due to the pandemic. Athletes and amateur runners are eager for a comeback.。
"It cost us a lot because we love to run this race. I would like to believe that we will never have such misfortunes, difficulties again," Konstantinos Gkelaouzos, a Greek long-distance runner who had won the Athens marathon, said at the press conference.。
"We have finally overcome the problem of COVID-19 and we will all be together at the starting point to celebrate. I wish good luck to all participants," Greek long-distance runner Gloria Priviletzio added.。
All runners crossing the finish line inside the Panathenaic stadium will receive a collective medal designed this year by prominent Greek sculptor Costas Varotsos.。
It is the second in a series of special medals, which will be awaiting runners every year until 2026 for the 130th anniversary of the first Marathon race of modern times.。
This year's medal will show "The Runner," an emblematic sculpture created by Varotsos three decades ago which has been placed near the Panathenaic stadium.。
"The struggle to get from one point to another through obstacles is a daily affair that we all struggle with. The medal I made is based on that (thought)," Varotsos explained on Wednesday after the presentation of the medal. Enditem。
Economic Watch: Listed firms reveal stocky Chinese real economy******
BEIJING, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- As one of the key bellwethers of the real economy, listed firms in China have shown resilient growth amid a complex environment at home and abroad, with research and development (R&D) being the major driving force of their performance.。
As of Oct. 31, a total of 4,168 listed companies on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges had disclosed their third quarter reports for 2021, with over 80 percent of them making profits.。
"In the third quarter, performance indicators including revenue and profits continued to improve," said Liu Xiangdong, a researcher with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.。
In the first three quarters of this year, companies on the main board of the Shanghai bourse reported a total operating income of 33.44 trillion yuan (about 5.22 trillion U.S. dollars), an increase of 21.43 percent year on year.。
In Shenzhen, the average operating revenue of listed companies amounted to 5.15 billion yuan during the Jan.-Sept. period, up 28.2 percent from a year ago. Their average net profits reached 365 million yuan, up 20.93 percent year on year.。
The steady development of the companies is propelled largely by their focus on R&D.。
"Listed companies have been increasing their investments in R&D, and those with strong R&D capabilities have better business performances and anti-risk capacities," Liu said, citing the growth momentum in industries such as advanced manufacturing, green and low-carbon, and modern services.。
For instance, the total R&D investment of companies on the sci-tech innovation board, commonly known as the STAR market, reached around 37.67 billion yuan in the first three quarters of this year, rising 40 percent year on year and approaching the total investment amount of last year.。
With most listed firms seeing positive performance, there are still some facing operational risks due to rising commodity prices and the sporadic resurgence of COVID-19, said Yang Delong, chief economist with First Seafront Fund.。
To help small and mid-sized enterprises reduce their tax burden and confront the challenges, the government has promptly introduced supportive policies such as inclusive finance and direct fiscal funds.。
"The financial reports of listed firms exhibit the process of China's economic transformation and upgrade. With robust performance of the new economy, new technologies and new energy, listed firms are expected to achieve long-term profitability and high-quality development," said Tian Lihui, a professor of finance at Nankai University. Enditem。