Mitchell and Holbrooke to be Named Envoys
By Glenn Kessler
Now that Hillary Clinton has been confirmed as Secretary of State, the Obama administration will announce Thursday two high-profile appointments -- former senate majority leader George Mitchell (D-Me.) as Middle East envoy and former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke as envoy for Afghanistan, Pakistan "and related matters," sources close to the administration said.
Mitchell will be charged with rebuilding the Middle East peace process in the wake of the three weeks of violence between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Holbrooke will take on the difficult job of soothing relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, whose border is a haven for the Taliban and is believed to harbor Osama Bin Laden. Left unsaid is that Holbrooke's brief could extend to India, which has been a victim of Islamic terrorism from Pakistan but is suspicious of third-party intervention in the dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.
Both men are highly regarded for their diplomatic skills but have vastly different styles. Mitchell, a former federal judge, calmly and patiently approaches difficult issues while the hard-charging Holbrooke is known as a demanding task-master.
During the Clinton administration, Mitchell was instrumental in the settlement of the Northern Ireland conflict and in 2000 headed a commission that looked into the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The Mitchell report, issued in 2001, won praise for being impartial, so much so that both sides accepted it. The recommendations in the report helped form the basis for the international "road map" plan that has been a hallmark of all later peace efforts.
Holbrooke was the chief architect of the Dayton peace accords that ended the Bosnian conflict in the mid-1990s, a peace that has held to this day in the ethnically divided country.
Posted at 5:57 PM ET on Jan 21, 2009
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