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 – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried