Washington – President Obama has decided to return a U.S. ambassador to Syria after an absence of more than four years, marking a significant step toward engaging an influential Arab nation long at odds with the United States.
By returning a senior U.S. envoy to Damascus, the Syrian capital, the Obama administration is seeking to carve out a far larger role for the United States in the region as the president works to rehabilitate U.S. relations with the Islamic world and the Arab Middle East.
The Bush administration withdrew its ambassador in February 2005 to protest the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Syrian intelligence officials are suspected of being behind the bombing in Beirut that killed him, a claim Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has long rejected.
Hounded premier denies buying sex
Rome – Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has told a gossip magazine he has never paid a woman for sex, as he continues to be dogged by suspicions stemming from his purported fondness for young models and starlets.
Berlusconi gave his first direct response to the claims in an interview with Chi magazine to be published today. Previously, he had simply dismissed as “garbage” and a smear campaign reports that an acquaintance of his had paid at least three women to attend parties at his residences.
“I have never paid a woman,” Berlusconi was quoted as saying. “I never understood what the satisfaction is when you are missing the pleasure of conquest.”
Berlusconi said the model at the center of the claims was “very well paid” to make the allegations.