This week's photograph features U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford presenting his credentials to Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, in Damascus, Syria, on January 27, 2011.
Speaking to reporters on January 7, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley said, "We have significant interests in Damascus and across the Middle East. Being without an ambassador serves no purpose other than to disadvantage the United States. A high-level representative in Damascus will make it possible to deliver strong, consistent messages to the Syrian Government and further U.S. interests and security. Putting an ambassador in Damascus should not be viewed as a reward to the Syrian Government. It improves our ability to deliver firm messages to the Syrian Government and to articulate clearly our concerns and priorities to Syria."
You can read the Assistant Secretary's complete remarks here.