Washington is to send an ambassador to Damascus, ending a four-year diplomatic absence in Syria, unnamed US officials have said.
The apparent move is being seen as part of President Barack Obama’s attempts to increase engagement with the region.
Officials said Syria’s ambassador in Washington was informed of the move.
The US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, recently visited Syria and said Damascus had an “integral role” in finding peace in the region.
A US official told the BBC that ”a decision in principle had been taken” to send a US ambassador to Damascus, but added that the process would take time.
Any ambassador would have to be confirmed by the Senate, and no names have been discussed yet, the BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Washington says.
A senior State Department official quoted by the New York Times said the move to install a new ambassador was “a reflection of Syria being a pivotal country in terms of achieving a comprehensive peace in the region”.
“There is a lot of work to do in the region for which Syria can play a role. For that, it helps to have a fully staffed embassy,” said the official.
Another senior US official, quoted by the Associated Press news agency, said Mr Obama “believes that diplomatic engagement helps serve our interests, and that the current policy didn’t make sense”.
Mr Obama has said he wants to broker a peace deal with Syria and Israel to end decades of regional conflict.
Earlier this month, Mr Mitchell held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and said the country had “an integral role to play in reaching comprehensive peace”.
The last US ambassador in Damascus was withdrawn in 2005, following the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minster Rafiq Hariri.
There is widespread suspicion inside and outside Lebanon that Syria was involved in Mr Hariri’s death, but Damascus strongly denies this.