In Syria, Mitchell said peace between Israel and Syria was a 'near-term goal.' Syrian, Israeli, Egyptian, and Palestinian leaders are meeting with the special envoy, who will be joined by Defense Secretary Gates and other high-level US officials.
Frederic C. Hof, author of a March report suggesting an environmental preserve and other initiatives in the disputed Golan Heights, is meeting with Israeli officials.
Briefing: With newly installed or reinstalled leaders in Iran, Lebanon, Israel, and the US, the balance of power has shifted between a US-allied bloc and the 'axis of resistance.'
Its support base dropped to 19 percent after the war; many blame the Hamas-Fatah standoff for their plight. Egypt hosts the rivals for a final round of reconciliation talks July 25.
The Islamic republic is unlikely to change its foreign policy or nuclear program, no matter who comes out on top. But the crisis could change Arab relations with the US and Iraq.
Damascus sees the move as a concrete indication that Obama is serious about improving ties. The US hopes to use Syrian leverage against Iran and Hezbollah.
The controversial move reverses the Bush administration's decision to withdraw its ambassador from Damascus in 2005.