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February 04, 2014 AT 9:14 PM
Current and former U.S. officials said on Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford will retire at the end of the month. Ford, a career foreign service officer and a fluent Arabic speaker, was instrumental in negotiating with Syrian opposition groups to join talks in Switzerland last month to try to end Syria's nearly three-year-old civil war. Ford spent months in Turkey and elsewhere in the region convincing Syrian opposition groups to attend the peace talks and represented the United States at the first round of U.N.-backed talks that concluded in Geneva on Friday. It is not immediately clear why Ford is retiring.