UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations confirmed on Monday that Jeffrey Feltman, until recently the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, will soon take up a senior post at the United Nations.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Feltman would replace American Lynn Pascoe as U.N. under-secretary-general for political affairs, a key position at the world body. He will be the highest-ranking U.S. official in the U.N. secretariat.
Feltman "brings to the position over 26 years of political and diplomatic experience within the United States Foreign Service, mostly handling Eastern European and Middle Eastern affairs," the U.N. press office said in a statement.
In his new position, Feltman will help to formulate U.N. policy in negotiations on the Middle East peace process and other conflicts and to oversee U.N. mediation efforts. Feltman is expected to take up the post this summer.
The U.S. State Department said last month that Feltman would retire from the U.S. government.
Feltman has extensive experience in the Middle East, having served as U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority's office in Iraq's Irbil province and as a senior official at the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem.
Earlier in his career, Feltman - who speaks French, Arabic and Hungarian - worked at the U.S. embassies in Israel, Tunisia, Hungary and Haiti.
As assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, a position he assumed on an acting basis in December 2008, Feltman has covered one of the most strategically important areas of the world during a particularly volatile period.
His tenure included the "Arab Spring" of uprisings that brought down authoritarian rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya as well as the conflict in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad has sought to crush rebels trying to topple him.
Despite having made Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority, U.S. President Barack Obama has little to show for his efforts more than three years into his term. Direct responsibility for this issue rested first with former special envoy George Mitchell and since with his successor, David Hale.
(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; editing by David Brunnstrom)