Posted by: sean | June 25, 2009

Obama to send ambassador to Damascus

syria-america-f32289Lost in the shuffle of the events in Iran is the news that Washington is sending an ambassador to Damascus:

President Obama has decided to send an ambassador to Syria after a four-year hiatus, two senior administration officials said on Tuesday evening, in a sign of the deepening engagement between the Obama administration and the Syrian government.

The State Department informed Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, of the decision on Tuesday, said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not yet been announced. Mr. Obama has not yet chosen a person for the post, he said.

The administration’s decision was first reported on CNN’s Web site. The State Department’s spokesman, Ian C. Kelly, declined to comment on the report, but other officials said it was a logical step in Mr. Obama’s pursuit of normal relations with Syria.

“It’s a reflection of Syria being a pivotal country in terms of achieving a comprehensive peace in the region,” one senior official said. “There is a lot of work to do in the region for which Syria can play a role. For that, it helps to have a fully staffed embassy.”

This could likely signal progress on a larger deal between Syria and the US, which may or may not include progress on Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. This will be a story to follow in the months ahead. It will also be interesting to see who is appointed.


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