US delays planned return of envoy to Syria

November 21, 2011 20:59


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WASHINGTON - The US ambassador to Syria will not return to Damascus this week as previously planned but is expected to go back there by the end of the year, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Monday.

Ambassador Robert Ford had been due to return to the Syrian capital by Thursday's US Thanksgiving holiday.

Nuland told reporters that several factors played into the decision for Ford not to return now. These included: events on the ground in Syria, where a lethal government crackdown against protesters continues; the decision of other nations to bring their ambassadors home; and the question of whether he could be effective and move around upon his return, Nuland said.

She said that as of now, it is expected that Ford will return to Damascus by the end if this year.

The United States last month pulled Ford out of Syria, citing threats to his safety. Ford had antagonized Syria's government with his high-profile support for demonstrators trying to end 41 years of Assad family rule. Assad supporters had attacked the US embassy and Ford's convoy in recent months.

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