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

Scientists find Earth-like planet Alpha Centauri Bb in neighbouring star system but rule-out possibility of life thanks to its 1,500C surface

The planet is the closest and smallest among about 800 'exoplanets' that scientists have identified beyond the Solar System since 1995 when they detected the first extra-solar planet.

Anthony Hilton: Switzerland is not the haven it is thought to be

Last Sunday at a speaking engagement down in Bath I sat next to a Swiss guy who wrote trading algorithms and software for Geneva based hedge funds. It was that sort of dinner – a place where the mathematically gifted fund managers exchange ideas and theories with academics on how to predict market movements.

Mona Lisa (left)
Leonardo’s preferred medium was wood, not canvas which the Isleworth version is painted on. Art historian Martin Kemp said: 'The head, like all other copies, does not capture the profound elusiveness of the original'
The 'Isleworth' Mona Lisa (right)
The Mona Lisa Foundation's researchers claim they can identify Leonardo's brush strokes. Art historian Stanley Feldman said: 'It strikes us that in order for that to be so accurate... only the person who did one did the other.'

Experts claim 'Mona Lisa' had a bit of previous

The Mona Lisa's elusive smile has enthralled visitors to the Louvre for generations, but yesterday a Swiss foundation unveiled what it said was an earlier version of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, claiming it was completed over a decade before the famous Renaissance painting.

Usain Bolt, third from the left, wins the 200m in Lausanne last night

Blake makes his point as Bolt enjoys Swiss stroll

Clinical Jamaican sprint stars pick up where they left off at London 2012 Olympics

Travel Challenge: Summer in Switzerland

Each week, we invite three companies to offer us their best deal for a specific break. Today: a summer holiday in the Swiss Alps. Prices are per person, based on two people travelling together. Each package includes a week's accommodation and flights from the UK in mid August.

From left, Ban Ki-moon, Annan and
Sergei Lavrov yesterday

Annan in last-ditch attempt to rescue Syria peace talks

International powers agreed yesterday that a transitional government should be set up in Syria to end the bloodshed there, but they left open the question of what part President Bashar al-Assad might play in the process.

Assad could be offered new clemency deal

Britain and the US may soon be pressured to consider clemency for President Bashar al-Assad as part of a new political transition package for Syria.

An aerial view of the Silverstone circuit

Silverstone joins circuits' bid for bigger say in F1's future

Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix, has joined forces with all the circuits that host Formula One races in a union to give themselves greater say in negotiations over the future of the sport.

Kofi Annan warns of risk of civil war in Syria

International envoy Kofi Annan says world powers share a “profound concern” that Syria's violence is spiraling into civil war but have pledged to deploy 300 truce monitors there by the end of the month.

A view of Sarajevo from a former sniper position on Mount Trebevic

Suffering goes on for 330,000 refugees of the Yugoslav war

Twenty years after the siege of Sarajevo began, thousands of survivors remain displaced

Brooke-Rose: as well as her fiction, she was a formidable critic and scholar

Christine Brooke-Rose: Writer acclaimed for her inventive and playful experimental fiction

Christine Brooke-Rose was a richly innovative novelist and a formidable critic. She moved between languages, countries and identities without securing a fixed place in a literary canon or a national culture, but this mobility, combined with her inventiveness, humour and insight, madeher particularly well-equipped to grasp the contemporary world of signs and simulations.

Faster-than-light claims 'a mistake'

The experiment that was supposed to have proved Albert Einstein wrong by showing that sub-atomic particles can travel faster than the speed of light is more than likely to have been an error, scientists said yesterday.

A damaged tank in the Bab Sabaa neighbourhood of Homs

UN compiles Syria crimes investigation list

The United Nations has a secret list of top Syrian officials who could face investigation for crimes against humanity carried out by security forces in their crackdown against an anti-government uprising, a panel of UN human rights experts said.

Mad, bad and darling to know

Riots and protests by the disaffected poor with the looming spectre of "mob rule", have often troubled MPs and lords at Westminster.

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Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

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War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

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Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

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Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

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