The U.S. ambassador to Syria will return to Damascus later on Tuesday, a U.S. official said, six weeks after he was withdrawn because of threats to his safety.
Ambassador Robert Ford has completed his consultations in Washington and is returning to Damascus this evening, a senior U.S. State Department official told reporters.
The official was speaking in Geneva just before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due to meet Syrian opposition leaders there.
Ford left Syria on October 24 as a government crackdown on protesters and a nascent armed insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad intensified, prompting Syria to follow suit and recall its own envoy in Washington.
The ambassador had been due to return by the November 24 U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, but the State Department postponed his return, citing the continued crackdown, decisions by other nations to bring their own envoys home and the question of whether he could move around and be effective in Syria.
Ford had antagonised Syria's government with his high-profile support for anti-Assad demonstrators. Assad's supporters had attacked the U.S. embassy and Ford's convoy.
The United States has repeatedly called for Assad to leave office because of Syria's handling of the protests, which the United Nations says killed has 4,000 people, including 307 children.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Tom Miles; Editing by Mark Heinrich)