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Washington increasingly has expressed its frustration with Syria, which it says is stirring up tension through its support of Hezbollah. In October, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Syria’s behavior “has not met our hopes and expectations.”

Syria could benefit from improved ties with Washington, which would boost its economy and end sanctions first imposed by Mr. Bush.

Bilal al-Ghazzawi, 23-year-old working at an electronics shop, said he was doubtful relations between the two countries would change.

“Americans cannot be trusted,” he said. “Today they send an ambassador; tomorrow they might pull him out again.”

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam and Albert Aji contributed to this story from Damascus, Syria.