US President Barack Obama said Tuesday he would nominate a career diplomat to become the United States' first ambassador to Damascus since 2005, a sign US-Syrian relations are thawing as Obama enters his second year in power.
The White House said it would send Robert Ford to the Senate for confirmation hearings. If confirmed, Ford would represent the United States' interests as it moves toward restored diplomatic relations with a nation that borders both Iraq and Israel.
"Ambassador Ford is a highly accomplished diplomat with many years of experience in the Middle East," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "His appointment represents President Obama's commitment to use engagement to advance US interests by improving communication with the Syrian government and people."
Obama has made changing the United States' image in the Middle East a priority of his first year including traveling to Cairo to deliver a speech on engaging the Muslim world.