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AMERICAN IN SYRIA
A U.S. ambassador returned to Syria on Sunday, ending nearly six years of a diplomatic protest from Washington over the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese leader, whose assassination is widely blamed on Syria and its Hezbollah extremist allies in Lebanon.
Robert Ford, a career diplomat, made no comments to the press after he landed in the capital, Damascus. A U.S. Embassy spokesman told reporters there that Mr. Ford will schedule no official meetings until he presents his credentials to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Mr. Ford, an Arab specialist and former ambassador to Algeria, arrived a day before a U.N. special prosecutor is expected to submit charges against Hezbollah members for their role in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, who served as prime minister from 1992 to 1998and from 2000 to 2004. The United States withdrew Ambassador Margaret Scobeyto protest Syria’s suspected links to the assassins.
President Obama sent Mr. Ford to Syria in a recess appointment last month, after members of the Senate refused to confirm a new ambassador to Damascus, fearing an appointment would be seen as a reward to Syria.
UZBEK MAFIA LINK?
Jon R. Purnell, U.S. ambassador in Uzbekistan from 2004 to 2007, reached the conclusion about such connections after watching a video shot at an engagement party for the son of Salim Abduvaliyev, whom he described as the “crime boss” of the capital, Tashkent.
In a secret cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, Mr. Purnell said the guests in the video included the wives of Finance Minister Rustam Azimov, Foreign Minister Elyor Ganiev, Interior Minister Bakhodir Matlybov and Justice Minister Burtosh Mustafayev. The sister of Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Kasimov also attended the party in July 2005, the ambassador reported.
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
• President Hu Jintao of China, who meets President Obama. He also holds talks with executives from General Electric, Boeing and Microsoft. On Thursday, he addresses a luncheon hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.
• Bill Paterson, Australia’s ambassador for counterterrorism, who addresses the Homeland Security Policy Institute.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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