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The U.S. is going to send its top ambassador back to Damascus, Syria, a senior Obama administration official said. They came to this decision after recalling him on October 22 because of burgeoning violence. Ambassador Robert Ford returned on Tuesday, said the official, who wanted to remain anonymous because of the sensitive situation.
The administration agreed that the Syrian ambassador was needed for advancing the goals of U.S. policy and as a witness to the violence that is occurring there. In response to this, Syria recalled Ford. The Syrian ambassador was supposed to return in late November, but he delayed his trip due to security reasons.
Ford will meet with opposition figures when he arrives to Syria, US officials said. The presence of Ford in the country was meant to be a symbol by President Obama. He wanted to engage Damascus, which had previously had no U.S. ambassador after the Bush administration cut off ties when Syria allegedly played a role in the assassination of a political candidate in Lebanon in 2005.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, held a meeting with the opposing Syrian figures while Ford returned to Damascus. In Geneva, Clinton talked to seven Syrian pro-reform activists and said she would like to hear their plans on how to establish a democratic government if they succeed in overthrowing President Assad and his regime.
Her words were almost an endorsement and an apparent sign that the United States wants to work with the people that may take on leadership roles. “Obviously, a democratic transition is more than removing the Assad regime. It means setting Syria on the path of the rule of law,” Clinton said to the activists, who are exiles that live in Europe and are a part of the Syrian National Council. The council is one of seven groups for Assad foes.
“He will continue the work he was doing previously; namely, delivering the United States’ message to the people of Syria; providing reliable reporting on the situation on the ground; and engaging with the full spectrum of Syrian society on how to end the bloodshed and achieve a peaceful political transition,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner stated.
He believes that one of the most effective ways to show the United States supports Syria’s people is to send Ford back. In the past, Ford incensed the Syrian regime when he paid a visit to protest centers outside of Damascus and supported the anti-government uprising. These incidences have increased tensions between Damascus and Washington, and Damascus has accused the U.S. of trying to incite violence in Syria.