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.

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