Obama 'to name' Mitchell as Mideast envoy

In his inaugural speech, the new U.S. president promised to reach out to Muslims worldwide, telling those of Islamic faith that he would "seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

Obama 'to name' Mitchell as Mideast envoy
President Barack Obama will move quickly to name a Middle East envoy and is strongly considering former Sen. George Mitchell for the job, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Best known for peacemaking efforts in Northern Ireland, the former Senate majority leader, 75, also has experience in the Middle East. Mitchell was appointed by former President Bill Clinton to find solution Israeli occupation on Palestinian territories.

If he gets the job, Mitchell's first challenge would be dealing with the crisis in Gaza, where Israeli troops are withdrawing after a 22-day offensive.

Mitchell's 2001 report on the Israelis and Palestinians called for the Israelis to freeze construction of new settlements and stop shooting at unarmed demonstrators, and Palestinians to stop resistance and punish those who perpetrated them.

Mitchell brokered talks between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland in an effort that led to the 1998 Good Friday Accord aimed at stemming the long-standing conflict there.

"Mutual respect"

In his inaugural speech, the new U.S. president promised to reach out to Muslims worldwide, telling those of Islamic faith that he would "seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

Born in Waterville, Maine, Mitchell was the fourth son of a janitor of Irish descent and his Lebanese immigrant wife.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said appointing Mitchell would show Obama's determination to reclaim U.S. leadership on Middle East peace issues.

"This is a president who appears to be serious on the Middle East from day one. This is an appointment that sends the message, 'I'm ready to solve this,'" Zogby said.

Reuters
Last Mod: 21 Ocak 2009, 12:23
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