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Diplomacy in Damascus continues without US Ambassador Ford

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• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

The Syrian National Council, representing Syria's various opposition groups, has called for regional and international observers to be allowed into the country immediately, the Associated Press reports.

The request comes a day ahead of a visit by senior Arab officials, led by the prime minister of Qatar, in order to attempt starting a national dialogue between the opposition and President Bashar al-Assad's regime. However, a statement by the council released Tuesday says no dialogue is possible while the regime crackdown on protesters, which according to the United Nations has already killed 3,000 people, continues.

With the removal this weekend of US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, the regime's diplomatic isolation is growing. Syria brought home its own ambassador to Washington after Mr. Ford's removal, the Guardian reports.

However, the State Department denies that Ford's return to the US is a "formal breakdown in relations." His deputy, Haynes Mahoney, is still in Damascus, according to the Guardian.

Whether Ford will return to Damascus is uncertain, State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said Monday, according to The Christian Science Monitor. It depends on an “assessment of Syrian regime-led incitement and the security situation on the ground.”


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