May 13th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

George Mitchell resigns as Obama's Middle East envoy

Washington (CNN) - Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell is resigning as the Obama administration's Mideast envoy, the White House announced Friday.

Mitchell has served as President Barack Obama's point man in the region as the administration has tried to keep Arab-Israeli peace talks on track.

Deputy Middle East Envoy David Hale will take Mitchell's place, according to the White House.

"George Mitchell has worked as a tireless advocate for peace as the U.S. special envoy for the Middle East," President Barack Obama said in a written statement. He "leaves behind a proud legacy of dedicated public service and the country owes him a debt of gratitude for his extraordinary commitment."

Mitchell's resignation, which takes effect May 20, comes at a pivotal moment in the Arab world. Obama is scheduled to deliver an address Thursday on the "Arab Spring": the uprisings that have shaken long-standing autocratic regimes across North Africa and the broader Middle East.

In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah are scheduled to visit Obama next week. Netanyahu will also deliver an address to Congress.

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