Top US Mideast diplomat expected to take senior UN post

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Reuters’ Arshad Mohammed and Warren Strobel report that veteran US Middle East troubleshooter Jeff Feltman is expected to take a top job at the United Nations:

Feltman, who is assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, is expected to replace Lynn Pascoe, another career U.S. diplomat, as U.N. under-secretary-general for political affairs, a key post at the world body.

In that position, Feltman would help to formulate U.N. policy in negotiations on the Middle East peace process and other conflicts and to oversee U.N. mediation efforts.

It was not clear when Feltman might step down but one source said it could be as early as next week.

The State Department isn’t officially commenting yet, but would normally wait for his new agency to announce the posting.

Feltman, the former US ambassador to Lebanon, is one of the most well regarded, straight shooting diplomats in the US government. He recently topped the Obama administration’s shortlist for next US envoy to Iraq, but was considered too essential for being able to work the whole Middle East region amid the Arab uprisings.

One wonders if this move may be, in part, a vote of frustration at the lack of effective US leadership on the Middle East peace process.