Obama names first US ambassador to Syria in five years

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama Tuesday nominated career diplomat Robert Ford as the first US ambassador to Syria in five years, as he seeks to engage Damascus as part of a wider Middle East peace push.
If confirmed by the Senate, Ford would be the first US ambassador to Damascus since Washington recalled its envoy after Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed in February 2005 in a bombing blamed on Syria.

US President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama
In announcing the nomination of Ford and another official, Obama said in a statement that "our nation will be well-served by these fine public servants, who both bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their fields.
"I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."
The announcement came on the eve of a visit to Syria by William Burns, a top State Department official, on a trip the administration says is intended to further dialogue with Damascus on "all aspects" of a strained relationship.
The administration announced earlier this month that it had nominated an ambassador to Syria as part of a year-long drive to engage the former US foe in efforts to promote Arab-Israeli peace.
The nomination of Ford was, as per diplomatic protocol, then sent to Damascus for approval, before it was publicly announced.

Wednesday, February 17th 2010

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