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Top Middle East adviser to Obama to step down

WASHINGTON — Top White House adviser on the Middle East Dennis Ross plans to step down next month, the Obama administration said Thursday, in what would be the second high-profile departure from the administration's policy team for the region in six months.

Ross, who helped set the administration's course on relations with Iran as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is returning to private life after a tenure marked by frustrations, setbacks and tumultuous change.

The White House hailed Ross' "extraordinary record of public service." Current and former colleagues said Ross' decision was not precipitated by policy disagreements. Ross, 62, has served as an adviser on Middle East affairs during four administrations and was the chief Middle East envoy for former President Bill Clinton. Weeks after Obama's inauguration, he was appointed special adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and in June 2009 became a special assistant to the president on the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia. The administration's special envoy for the Middle East peace process, former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, quit his post in May.

PERSONAL ASSISTANT LEAVING, TOO: Reggie Love, 30, the ex-Duke basketball player by President Obama's side since 2008, will leave by the year's end.

Love has managed his White House role while in an MBA program in Pennsylvania. A White House official said Love was leaving to focus on school.

Information from Associated Press was used in this report.

Top Middle East adviser to Obama to step down 11/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011 11:12pm]
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