Syrian envoy to US loses top negotiator

Adviser to Syrian PM to take Daoudi's place; State Department: Unclear whether Welch will meet envoy.

David Welch good 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
David Welch good 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
A senior Syrian negotiator due in the US capital this week has canceled his trip, according to one of the organizations due to host him and his Syrian colleagues. At the same time, the State Department is backing away from statements officials made Monday indicating that Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch would be meeting with the Syrian delegation. The small group, whose visit is being coordinated by the Search for Common Ground, includes advisers to the government in Damascus as well as analysts and members of the media. They will make a public appearance Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, which announced Tuesday that the original featured speaker, Riad Daoudi, wouldn't be coming to Washington and that Ahmad Samir al-Taki, an adviser to Syrian Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-Otari, would take his place. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos, meanwhile, told reporters that while Welch "had been willing to meet with this delegation," he was now traveling and it wasn't clear that he would be participating in a meeting with them upon his return at the end of the month. He did say, though, that a meeting had been set and would be held with a State Department official at "an appropriate level," though no clarification on what that level would be was offered.