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.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
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Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
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i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
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Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
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Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
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news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
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Day In a Page

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
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone