Saturday's meeting is being held at the Beau Rivage Palace, a five-star hotel where Kerry and other diplomats spent weeks in negotiations that culminated in the Iran nuclear deal a year ago. The talks came amid heightened urgency about the war's latest flashpoint, the city of Aleppo.
Kerry was seeking a new path to peace after failing to secure a ceasefire in direct talks with Russia amid increasing global outrage over the Russian and Syrian bombardment of Aleppo's rebel-held east.
Nevertheless, Kerry reunited with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the lakeside Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, speaking with the Russian for nearly 40 minutes before the larger gathering. "We're working very hard".
Syrian and Russian aircraft bombed four hospitals in Aleppo on Friday, causing severe damage to a major trauma facility, Doctors Without Borders reported, calling it the worst damage inflicted on already battered health facilities since the end of September.
There was also little optimism on show on the USA side.
With military options all but eliminated, the United States and Britain on Sunday said they were considering new sanctions to pressure the Syrian and Russian governments to halt an offensive against rebel-held parts of Aleppo, Syria's largest city.
US officials said they consider it unlikely that Obama will order USA air strikes on Syrian government targets, and they stressed that he may not make any decisions at the planned meeting of his National Security Council.
"The way it wrapped up was to have several ideas that need to be quickly followed up", Kerry said.
More than 370 people, including almost 70 children, have been killed in Syrian government and Russian bombardment of east Aleppo since September 22, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Aleppo has been engulfed by some of the worst violence of the conflict since the collapse of last month's truce deal.
The conflict in Syria, which flared up in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by de Mistura.
Kerry and Lavrov then headed into talks with the foreign ministers from regional powers involved in the conflict, including Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, along with the United Nations mediator, Staffan de Mistura.
However, he said, Russia will propose "concrete moves" to implement past Security Council resolutions on Syria and the earlier approved Russian-American agreements.
Speaking to Turkish media following the Swiss talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara stands for "direct talks" between the Syrian government and what he called a "moderate opposition".
Also at the negotiating table in Lausanne were the foreign ministers of Iraq, Egypt and Jordan, which also have stakes in Syria's five-year war.
The intensified bombardment has put even further strain on rescue workers in besieged eastern Aleppo which is home to an estimated 250,000 residents.
Al Jazeera reports the rebels have not only taken control of Dabiq but also some towns nearby.
More than 370 people, including almost 70 children, have been killed in regime and Russian bombardment of eastern Aleppo since September 22, according to the Observatory.