Among the developments in the crisis in Syria:
Kerry labels talks “constructive” as Day 2 begins
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday they hoped that talks on Syria's chemical weapons would help revive an international plan for a "Geneva 2" conference to end the war in Syria.
Kerry, who said the ongoing talks on chemical weapons were "constructive," told a news conference in Geneva that he and Lavrov planned to meet in New York later this month and hoped to agree a date for the Geneva 2 conference then.
Lavrov said Russian and U.S. experts needed to engage with the U.N. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to design a roadmap to resolve the issue as soon as practical.
Kerry to meet with Annan, Netanyahu
After meetings with Lavrov and Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. and Arab League Special Representative for Syria, Kerry will meet in Geneva with the former special representative for Syria, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Annan quit his role in frustration as special representative Aug. 2, saying a "clear lack of unity" in the U.N. Security Council had "fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role."
The secretary of state will travel to Jerusalem on Sunday to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have an in-depth discussion on the status of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. They will also focus on developments in Syria.
Syria takes step toward joining weapons ban
Damascus formally applied to join a global poison ban -- a move welcomed on Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He called it "an important step towards the resolution of the Syrian crisis'' and added: "This confirms the serious intention of our Syrian partners to follow this path.''
The United Nations confirmed it received a document from Syria on joining the global anti-chemical weapons treaty, a move Assad promised as part of a deal to avoid U.S. air strikes.
As talks continue, so does the fighting
As the diplomacy continued in Switzerland, Assad's forces were on the offensive against rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, opposition activists and residents said. Warplanes and artillery were bombing and shelling, notably in the Barzeh neighborhood, where activists said there were also clashes on the ground.
Death toll connected to chemical-weapons strike questioned
Three congressional sources told Reuters that administration officials had indicated in private that some of the 1,429 deaths cited in the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack might have been caused by the conventional bombing that followed the release of sarin gas in suburban Damascus neighborhoods.
One of the congressional sources said that administration officials in closed door briefings said they could not rule out that some victims included in the U.S. death toll were killed either by conventional explosive parts of rockets which carried poison gas or in the artillery barrage the United States says followed the gas attack.
"The Intelligence Community has a high bar for its assessments but it is virtually impossible to achieve 100 percent certitude," said Shawn Turner, chief spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "That's not the way intelligence works.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report
First published September 13 2013, 4:12 AM