Conflict & Justice

George Mitchell, US Mideast envoy, to quit

Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell is resigning as the Obama administration's Mideast envoy at a pivotal moment in the Arab world, and also ahead of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The White House is expected to announce that Mitchell, a Maine Democrat and the broker of Northern Ireland's Good Friday Peace Agreement, is stepping down for personal reasons, officials told The Associated Press.

Mitchell's resignation comes as President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver an address on uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, known as the "Arab Spring," CNN reports. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also scheduled to visit Obama next week and speak to Congress.

Mitchell has tried for more than two years to press Israel and the Palestinians into peace talks, without success. The peace process has been further complicated by an agreement between Palestinian factions to share power, the AP writes.

Mitchell was among Obama's first appointments, named as Mideast envoy two days after Obama took office.

The president has not addressed Mitchell's resignation directly, but reportedly said Friday: "George is by any measure one of the finest public servants our nation has ever had," and "a good friend."