• The president of Oxfam America, the international relief and development organization, regards the Kerry-Lavrov meetings in Geneva as "positive" but regrets that the diplomats failed to set a date "for the elusive Geneva peace conference." "Further delays will only result in more death, displacement and suffering," the group's president, Ray Offenheiser, said.
The U.S. perspective
• Kerry said they will gauge whether it is possible to find a date for a Geneva II conference when they meet around September 28. Forging that conference will "obviously depend on the capacity to have success here in the next day, hours, days, on the subject of the chemical weapons," he said.
• "I would say, on behalf of the United States, that President Obama is deeply committed to a negotiated solution with respect to Syria. And we know that Russia is likewise," Kerry said. "We are working hard to find the common ground to be able to make that happen."
• Kerry said he and Lavrov are concerned about "the acts on both sides, all sides, that are creating more and more refugees, more and more of a humanitarian catastrophe." "We are committed to trying to work together, beginning with this initiative on the chemical weapons, in hopes that those efforts could pay off and bring peace and stability to a war-torn part of the world."
• After his talks conclude in Geneva, Kerry will head to Israel and then to Paris -- where he'll meet with the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Saudi Arabia -- before returning to Washington on September 16, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
• The White House expects to know within several weeks if the talks aimed at having the international community obtain and destroy the Syrian government's chemical weapons stockpile will be successful, senior Obama administration officials say. Still, the fact that this is being discussed diplomatically is a deterrent in itself, according to the officials.
• U.S. President Barack Obama met Friday with Kuwait's emir, who agreed with him "that the use of chemical weapons that we saw in Syria was a criminal act ... and it is absolutely important for the international community to respond," according to Obama. Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah spoke of "the suffering of the Syrian people (and) refugees" and his desire "to keep the region free from the danger of war."
• Lavrov said he regrets that the communique that came out of the June 2012 Geneva meeting was "basically abandoned" and not endorsed in the U.N. Security Council. But he praised Kerry, saying he "understood the importance of moving on Syria and doing something about this."
• Lavrov praised Kerry for traveling to Moscow on May 7 "when we launched the Russian-American initiative to convene a Geneva conference and to implement fully the Geneva communique"
• The communique, Lavrov said, means that "Syrian parties must reach mutual consent on the transitional governing organs which would command full executive authority. And the communique also says that all groups of Syrian society must be represented."
• Continuing an at times tense back-and-forth between the two countries, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the United States is "unaccustomed" to competition in the world, according to a report from Russia's official RIA Novosti news agency. Speaking on the heels of a New York Times op-ed by by Russian President Vladimir Putin that was critical of Washington, Peskov said, "Putin never preaches to anyone. Meanwhile, our American partners and friends in the past several decades have grown too used to patting everyone on the back patronizingly."
Ban Ki-moon remarks
• U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon indicated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be held accountable for crimes but stressed that the first priority in dealing with Syria is stopping the war and promoting dialogue.
• "What happened is that he (al-Assad) has committed many crimes against humanity and therefore I am sure there will be surely a process of accountability when everything is over," Ban said, speaking at an event at the U.N. headquarters on Friday. "But at this time first and foremost we have to help the fighting stop and the dialogue, talking begin. That is what I have been saying: Let diplomacy have a chance and peace a chance."
On the ground
• At least 60 people deaths were reported Friday in Syria, including 21 occurring in Daraa province, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. Artillery shellings occurred in many locations, and airstrikes were also reported, the group said. In one incident in the Damascus suburbs, the Free Syrian Army targeted the government's Military Intelligence Branch with heavy machine guns and scored "direct hits," the LCC said. CNN could not independently confirm the reports.
• Syrian troops have retaken the town of Maaloul from rebel fighters, Syrian state TV reported Friday, broadcasting images of government tanks and soldiers rolling through the streets. "This peaceful, beautiful town ... was violated by gangs of betrayal," said Hilal Hilal, a local official, in the report. "... And therefore, the people of the town and the Syrian Arab army confronted these gangs and forced them out."
• The U.N. refugee agency, which has reported millions of Syrians displaced by the civil war, said it has seen a "sharp increase" of Syrians arriving by boat in southern Italy. Most have come from Egypt.
• The Free Syrian Army hopes that its "military supplies will increase in the coming days," Louay Al-Mokdad, the army's political and media coordinator, said Friday. The rebels are issuing guarantees that munitions won't fall into "the wrong hands," such as extremist groups and "undisciplined rebel elements."
• Human Rights Watch issued a report saying Syrian government and pro-government forces executed at least 248 people in the towns of al-Bayda and Baniyas in May. It was one of the deadliest instances of mass summary executions since the start of the conflict in Syria.