- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2013

United Nations diplomats said Tuesday that the Syrian National Coalition is set to open offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City, as it prepares for meetings of Syrian opposition leaders with U.S. and U.N. officials.

Najib Ghadbian, an associate professor of political science and Middle East studies at the University of Arkansas, would head the New York office, and Oubab Khalil, a realtor in Frisco, Texas, would head the Washington office, the diplomats said Tuesday, who spoke on condition of anonymity since the expansion has not yet been made public, the Associated Press reports.

The purpose of the New York office would be to foster communication with the U.N. Security Council, which has long been divided over Syria’s conflict that has killed an estimated 60,000 people, Reuters reports.

A top priority for the Washington office would be to prepare for a trip to the United States by coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib toward the end of February, the source said.

The offices are “an important step and it’s obviously a potential vehicle for inviting over … Alkhatib to come to New York at some point,” a senior Western diplomat said, according to Reuters.