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

Professor Peter Higgs at the launch of the Science Museum's 'Collider' exhibition

A Nobel effort: The winners and losers in the battle for the top prize

Peter Higgs said that Tom Kibble, his erstwhile competitor at Imperial College in London, should have been awarded a share of his prize

Dive in: the Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate

Get me out of here - Cornwall, Valmorel, Jakarta

Now... From now until 23 December, The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate in St Austell is offering two-night breaks for £179 per couple. The package includes B&B accommodation, one dinner and complimentary use of the gym, pool and hotel spa. Bookings via 01726 874051. thecornwall.co.uk

New UK diplomat Ajay Sharma to visit Iran as direct diplomatic links renewed

Britain's new charge d'affaires to Iran is expected to visit the country later this month amid further signs of a thawing in relations.

Footage shown to the court from a helmet camera of a Marine during a patrol in Afghanistan in which an insurgent was killed

‘Murder is murder’: Armed forces chief says it would be wrong to call for exemption in case of convicted Marine A

‘No one’ serving in Afghanistan has asked for clemency in case of murdered insurgent, says Defence Secretary Philip Hammond

Diplomats fail to agree on date for new Syria peace talks in Geneva

The United Nations’ top Syria envoy has said that diplomats had failed to agree on a date for new peace talks.

A UN vehicle transporting a team of weapons inspectors arrives at a hotel in Damascus

Syria crisis: Inspectors begin ambitious task of overseeing destruction of Assad's chemical weapons program

An advance group of international inspectors arrived in Syria on Tuesday to begin the ambitious task of overseeing the destruction of President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons program, kicking off a mission that must navigate the country's bloody civil war as well as the international spotlight.

Syrian crisis: UN Security Council agreed on ‘core points’ of resolution to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons

Russia warns that work is 'still going on' after foreign ministers from the five permanent members meet Ban Ki-moon in New York

French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius

Paralysis over action in Syria fuels calls for reform of moribund UN Security Council

Staring delegates at the General Assembly in the face this week is a crisis at the heart of the UN system, namely the sclerosis besetting the 15-member Security Council as demonstrated vividly by its inability to respond so far to the civil war in Syria. Not a few among them are taking notice.

President Assad meets the former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark in Damascus, who is heading a US delegation to Syria

Syria crisis: West backs down on demand for threat of war in UN resolution

The move means intervention in the conflict is unlikely in the near future

Parents grieve over the body of their child killed in a suspected chemical attack in Damascus

Syria crisis: Regime has given Russia 'proof' of rebel chemical weapon use

Foreign Minister Lavrov remains at odds with French over culpability for deaths

Syria crisis: US warns Assad regime of ‘consequences’ of breaking chemical weapons deal

In a dramatic breakthrough during US-Russian talks, Syria has been given a week to account for all chemical weapons and let inspectors in

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke is in favour of a switch

Winter World Cup for Qatar 2022 'inevitable'

European leagues set to agree to switch

Plans for future wind farms in Britain could be in jeopardy

Exclusive: UN ruling puts future of UK wind farms in jeopardy

Tribunal warns that the Government acted illegally by denying public participation

A 'river' of refugees flows out of Syria as Iraqi Kurdistan opens border

Tens of thousands of refugees from Syria’s Kurdish-majority north-east have streamed into Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern Kurdistan region after authorities opened the border ending months of limited access.

The current Swiss anthem, whilst being a nice hymn, contains scant details about Swiss life

Hit or Swiss: Our take on Switzerland's national anthem

A prize of 10,000 Swiss francs, or £7,000 sterling, is being offered by the Swiss Public Welfare Society to whomever writes the best new lyrics to the Swiss national anthem. The one currently in use, the Schweizer Nationalhymne or Swiss Psalm, has lyrics by Leonhard Widmer (1809-67) which err on the side of religiosity and weather: "When the morning skies grow red/And o'er their radiance shed/Thou, O Lord, appeareth in their light/When the Alps glow bright with splendour/Pray to God, to him surrender/For you feel and understand/That he dwelleth in this land." Critics have remarked that it's a nice hymn, but contains scant details about Swiss life.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick