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

Syrian opposition back out of peace talks after UN invites Iran to attend

‘Geneva II’ conference could be in jeopardy after UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon invites Iran to preliminary meeting

Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children

Shocking figures reveal Pope Benedict defrocked child-molesting priests at a rate of more than one every two days during his last years of office

Pope Benedict XVI defrocked child-molesting priests at a rate of more than one every two days in his last years of office, the Vatican has revealed.

Syria crisis: Half of population in need of aid as Britain pledges another £100m

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says ‘fighting has set Syria back decades’

Pope Francis addresses ambassadors to the Holy See at the Vatican on January 13, 2014

Vatican faces UN grilling over child sex abuse

Holy See will be questioned on Thursday over its implementation of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Rebel groups now fight each other as well as the army

'You need to go to Geneva': Opposition source reveals threat made by Britain and US over Syria peace talks

The two Western powers could withdraw support from the rebels unless they attend

US and Russia say negotiations close to ceasefire and aid convoy access in Syria

John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov met for talks in Paris this week ahead of a peace conference in Geneva

UN finds mass grave in South Sudan, 75 feared dead

The U.N. human rights office says staff who visited the site Monday in the northern town of Bentiu counted 14 bodies in the grave and 20 more at a nearby river.

Get me out of here - Swiss ski, Bermuda sun, nine days in India

Now... Swiss ski in the new year

Swishing down the Swiss slopes doesn't have to cost the earth. On 4 January, Inghams has a week in Grindlewald, at the foot of the Eiger, for £399pp. Half board at Hotel Jungfrau Lodge is included, with transfers and Monarch flights from Gatwick to Geneva. inghams.co.uk

The Obama administration said it did not have a problem with the Islamic Front

US asks Islamic Front rebels in Syria for stolen equipment back

Vehicles and communications gear was seized by the powerful Islamist group

George Ortiz: Collector whose inherited fortune allowed him to assemble an array of hundreds of the finest pieces of their kinds

George Ortiz was one of the great contemporary collectors. He came to public attention in 1994, when the Royal Academy showed his breathtaking collection of antiquities. Not all were impressed: Lord Renfrew criticised the show, talking of “the large-scale looting which is the ultimate source of so much of what he is able to exhibit.” This stung, because Ortiz’s collecting was guided by the concept of André Malraux’s Musée Imaginaire, where objects could be viewed without the preconceptions that grouped them by country and period – contrary to the traditional practice of curators and art historians.

Peter Higgs is to be honoured with a new £11m space technology centre named after him

The Nobel Prize for Peter Higgs recognises truth in an ancient Greek idea

The old system was familiar, the modern one somewhat more intimidating

Obama will visit Israel again this week. Previous talks with Benjamin Netanyahu came to nothing Netanyahu isolated

Robert Fisk: He may huff and puff but Benjamin Netanyahu is on his own now as nuclear agreement isolates Israel

Sudden offer by Tehran to negotiate a high-speed end to this cancerous threat of further war was thus greeted with almost manic excitement

Police fear the English problem with hooliganism could be on its way back

Case of Manchester United fan shows how far hooligans will go to skip bans

Arrest of supporter for flouting his banning order across Europe shows the game's scourge is far from eradicated

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran will not budge over ‘nuclear rights’

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says he has set 'red lines' for his envoys in Geneva

US and Israel's come to blows over Iran nuclear programme

John Kerry says he has great respect for Netanyahu's concerns but maintains an accord with Iran would actually reduce the Israel's risk

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas