News Demonstrators protest against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outside the UN offices in Geneva during the talks on Friday

At first the talks were delayed for 24 hours, then Syria’s foreign minister threatened to walk out. But last night the two sides agreed to be in the same room. Kim Sengupta reports from Geneva on the UN mission to end the bloodshed

LETTER : Forgotten shame

Sir: I am surprised never to have seen in any British media what seems to me the best reason not to vote for John Major.

First encounters: When Byron met Shelley

Illustration by Edward Sorel Text by Nancy Caldwell Sorel Next week: Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt

Coombs cuts a swath

SWIMMING

Piggott pays tribute to a friend

Lester Piggott was among the first to pay tribute to Boutin, who had provided him with a unique Ascot Gold Cup treble on Sagaro. "It is very, very sad. We were friends for years, both socially and professionally," he said. "I had the greatest respect for him as a trainer and he was a very nice man. I rode so many good horses like Sagaro and Nonoalco for him over the years.

World trade HQ

GENEVA - Geneva beat Bonn in a two-month battle to host the headquarters of the World Trade Organisation, the body set up to replace Gatt. A spokesman said the main reasons were that Geneva already hosts major international organisations and that the transition would be easier in Geneva since Gatt is already based here. AFP

Fair-shares plea

A global pact to distribute wealth fairly and end unemployment was urged by the UN Secretary- General, Boutros Boutros- Ghali, Reuter reports from Geneva.

'Modest' peace moves in Geneva

Bosnian Serbs accepted in Geneva a UN proposal for a four-month truce across the whole of Bosnia but there was no immediate sign that Bosnia's Muslims and their Croat allies would do the same, Reuter reports from Sarajevo. In what mediators called 'a modest movement in the right direction', Croatia and its rebel Serbs agreed in Geneva on the venue of their next talks.

Bosnian hope

The UN envoy, Yasushi Akashi, said yesterday he still planned to get Bosnia's warring factions together for ceasefire talks - only hours after his spokesman said all such plans had been scrapped, Reuter reports from Geneva.

No bosnian-Croat agreement

BONN - Two days of Bosnian-Croat peace talks ended yesterday without agreement on a territorial settlement, officials at the talks said, Reuter reports.

Ivory Coast's ruler returns

ABIDJAN - Ivory Coast's ailing President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, 88, returned home by chartered plane from Geneva, where he had been staying at a clinic for more than six months, AP reports.

World refugee crisis mounts

GENEVA - Some 44 million people, one in 130 of the world's population, are refugees or displaced persons forced to flee their homes by conflict or oppression, the United Nations said yesterday, Reuter reports.

Gloom grows as talks resume in Geneva: Mediators fear Bosnia peace plan could crumble under weight of renewed demands and old intransigence

A CLIMATE of growing international concern surrounds the reopening talks on Bosnia today as the mediators Lord Owen (for the European Community) and Thorvald Stoltenberg (for the United Nations) attempt to overcome Muslim reluctance to accept a partition plan and Serbian refusal to alter a word of it.

Ivory Towers: A right carry-on about gender differences

DISTINGUISHING men from women is not as easy as it used to be. According to recent research, you can no longer tell a person's gender from the way he or she carries books, writes William Hartston.

Serbs 'will sign Geneva accord'

A SENIOR Bosnian Serb leader yesterday said there was no doubt that Serbs would sign the Geneva agreement aimed at ending the war in the republic at a forthcoming emergency session of the Bosnian Serb assembly.
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