US Sending Ambassador to Syria After 4-Year Absence

Obama aims to boost US presence after 4-year absence
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2009 2:19 AM CDT
Syrian riot police officers stand guard in front the US Embassy in Damascus during a demonstration against a US raid on a village near the Syrian-Iraqi border last year   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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(Newser) – An American ambassador will soon be on the road to Damascus for the first time since early 2005, the Washington Post reports. The Obama administration plans to send an envoy to Syria as part of efforts to reengage with the influential Arab country. The move, which follows recent high-level diplomatic and military talks between the US and Syria, is central to plans to restore American diplomatic leverage in the Middle East.

The Bush administration pulled its ambassador to Syria to protest the alleged involvement of the Syrian government in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, but the move proved counterproductive. "It did not make any sense to us not to be able to speak with an authoritative voice in Damascus," said a senior administration official. "Total disengagement has not served our interests."