Washington submitted to Damascus the name of its proposed new ambassador to Syria, the first since 2005, the country's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said, in the latest step toward improving ties between the two nations.
Moallem told reporters that the "United States has nominated an ambassador" and "it is Syria's right to study this nomination." Arab media have reported that diplomat Robert Ford has been chosen for the job. Al-Moallem refused to reveal the identity of the nominee.
Ford, a fluent Arabic speaker, is serving his second term in the Baghdad embassy. He was also the US ambassador to Algeria from 2006 to 2008.
Washington withdrew its last ambassador to Damascus in 2005 following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which many blamed on Syria. Syria has denied involvement.