Pro-Russia separatists sat down for preliminary Ukraine peace talks on Monday due to resume later this week in the Belarusian capital Minsk, saying they would be prepared to stay part of Ukraine if they were granted "special status". The meeting of the so-called "contact group", at which the rebels also said one of their key conditions would be for Kiev to immediately end its military offensive, ended without any details being announced but a promise to continue consultations. The separatists issued their call as the Ukrainian military faced a run of reverses on the battlefield which Kiev has ascribed to support for the rebels from at least 1,600 Russian combat troops. Moscow denies its troops are in Ukraine.
NEW YORK (AP) — Playing mostly mistake-free tennis, top-seeded Novak Djokovic reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open for the eighth year in a row — and 22nd consecutive Grand Slam tournament overall.
A Saudi Arabian court jailed 17 men for up to 26 years on Monday for seeking to fight in Iraq and funding militants, official media reported, part of a security crackdown in which scores have been imprisoned in recent weeks. Worried about potential threats from citizens who have traveled to join Islamist insurgents in Syria and Iraq, Saudi Arabia has banned them from fighting abroad, donating money to any faction or sympathizing with militant ideologies. The official Saudi Press Agency reported that the 17 were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 2-1/2 years to 26 years. The men were charged with following extremist ideology, disobeying the country's leadership by planning to fight in Iraq, coordinating the travel of some "misled" members of society and trying to turn public opinion against the state.