US official in Syria as ties improve

William Burns highest ranking US official to visit country since January 2005.

By BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 17, 2010 13:56
William Burns.

William Burns 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 
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A senior US official is meeting the Syrian president as part of President Barack Obama's attempts to improve ties with Damascus after years of tense relations.

William Burns, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, was received Wednesday by President Bashar Assad. Burns is the highest ranking US official to visit Syria since January 2005.

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The visit comes a day after Obama said he would nominate a career diplomat to become the United States' first ambassador to Damascus since 2005.

The tense relations between Syria and the US started to improve after Obama took office last year. Obama made changing the United States' image in the Middle East a priority of his first year.

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