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Obama's special envoy for Middle East resigns

News18test sharma, |

Updated: May 14, 2011, 9:29 AM IST
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Obama's special envoy for Middle East resigns
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked the Deputy Middle East Envoy Hale to serve as the acting envoy.

Washington: Special US Envoy for the Middle East George J Michelle has resigned after his two-year efforts failed to advance Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Michelle, 77, communicated his decision to President Barack Obama in a letter without giving any specific reason, except for saying that his intention was to serve in this post for two years. Michelle's resignation has been accepted by
Obama and his deputy David Hale has been asked to serve as acting envoy.

"When I accepted your request to serve as US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace my intention was to serve for two years. More than two years having passed I hereby resign, effective May 20, 2011," Michelle said in a letter to Obama, a copy of which was released by the White House.

"I strongly support your vision of comprehensive peace in the Middle East and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of your administration," he said.

Michelle, one of Obama's first appointments, was directed to shepherd an aggressive administration peacemaking initiative. He functioned as an intermediary between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, shuttling back and forth between the two sides.

His efforts culminated in September in a short round of direct White House-brokered talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But the negotiations quickly fell apart after Israel declined to extend a moratorium on construction of settlements
in the occupied West Bank.

Unable to push the two sides to restart the talks, his travel to the region slowed significantly after December.

However, accepting the resignation, President Obama said Michelle's "deep commitment" to resolving conflict and advancing democracy has contributed "immeasurably to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security."

"As a nation, we remain committed to peace in the Middle East and to building on George's hard work and progress toward achieving this goal."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked the Deputy Middle East Envoy Hale to serve as the acting envoy.

"It has been an honour to work alongside Senator Mitchell over the past two years. He represents the best traditions of American diplomacy," Clinton said.

"Throughout George's distinguished career he has taken on the hardest challenges with determination, talent and old fashioned Maine common sense.

From the Senate to Northern Ireland to the State Department, his work has brought peace and increasing prosperity to millions of people around the world and made our own country stronger and more secure," she said.

Clinton added, "As well as anyone in his generation, George understands the slow, hard work of diplomacy, the art of compromise and the indispensable role of American leadership in the world."

First Published: May 14, 2011, 9:29 AM IST
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