- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2011

WASHINGTON — Former Sen. George Mitchell announced his resignation Friday as the U.S. special envoy to the Mideast at a time of turmoil in the region and fruitless attempts at Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Mitchell’s resignation comes at a critical time for the Middle East, which is embroiled in uprisings, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been moribund since last September and is now further complicated by an agreement between Palestinian factions to share power.

President Barack Obama, accepting the resignation, called Mitchell “a tireless advocate for peace.”

In a two-paragraph letter to Obama, Mitchell said that he took the diplomatic job intending to only serve two years. “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,” Mitchell wrote.

Obama will deliver a speech next Thursday at the State Department about his administration’s views of developments in the region, ahead of a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Jordan’s King Abdullah II also will travel to Washington next week. Michell’s resignation will be effective May 20 — the same day Netanyahu visits the White House

David Hale, Mitchell’s deputy, will serve as acting envoy, Obama said in a statement.

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