US ambassador to Syria staying on: official

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WASHINGTON: The US State Department insisted Wednesday that its Syria envoy Robert Ford was keeping his post, including talks with the opposition, despite reports of his impending resignation.

“Ambassador Ford is in Istanbul right now and continues (Secretary of State John Kerry’s) urgent work on behalf of the Syrian people every single day,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

“He will continue his work and we have no announcements at this time.”

Middle East-focused media news website Al-Monitor reported earlier that Ford would likely step down in July, citing unnamed sources.

It said Ford was exhausted after working on the Syrian dossier for nearly three years, including on efforts to unify the divided opposition.

A career diplomat, Ford speaks Arabic and French. He was named ambassador to Syria in 2010 but was recalled from Syria in October 2011 due to threats to his safety.

The United States closed its embassy over security concerns in February 2012.

Since then, Ford has played a key US diplomatic role in efforts to mediate the civil war that activists say has killed more than 94,000 people since it erupted in March 2011.

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