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Mitchell done as Mideast peace envoy

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON - Former Sen. George Mitchell is resigning as the Obama administration's special envoy for Mideast peace after a failed two-year effort to advance Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, White House officials said Friday.

Mitchell, acclaimed for his success in sealing a Northern Ireland peace deal, began this mission with optimism, but lately decided that with negotiations a distant prospect there was no need for him to continue, according to associates. The former Senate majority leader had not visited the Mideast since December.

Mitchell, one of President Barack Obama's first appointments, was directed to shepherd an aggressive administration peacemaking initiative, but negotiations broke down last fall.

The resignation came at an awkward time for the White House, which is preparing for a visit next week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a presidential speech Thursday on this year's political upheaval in the Middle East.

White House officials stressed their gratitude to Mitchell, 77, and their recognition that any attempt to make peace in the region faces long odds.

In a statement, Obama thanked Mitchell, 77, for his work as a "tireless advocate for peace." He said Mitchell's deputy, veteran foreign service officer David Hale, would serve as acting envoy.