U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to send an ambassador to Syria, ending a four-year diplomatic hiatus with the nation. After meetings among Damascus, the U.S. State Department and National Security Council officials, special envoy for the Middle East George J. Mitchell met with Syria President Bashar al-Assad to negotiate new diplomatic ties. Elsewhere, North Korea agreed to allow the Swedish ambassador to meet with U.S. journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, the first visit he has made with them since they were sentenced.

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