Page last updated at 22:13 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Mitchell given Middle East post

George Mitchell
The former US senator was a Northern Ireland envoy

The former US Senator and Northern Ireland envoy George Mitchell has been appointed as Middle East envoy by new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Senator Mitchell said the situation in the Middle East was volatile, complex and dangerous.

But he said he was also confident that it could be solved.

"Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings - they can be ended by human beings. I saw it happen in Northern Ireland," he said.

"I believe deeply that with committed and persevering, patient diplomacy it can happen in the Middle East."

Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon described Mr Mitchell's appointment as a "boost for the Middle East peace process".

"He has been round many corners, he used his skills in the American Congress, he is used to negotiating and he brought those skills to the Northern Ireland process," said the one-time SDLP MP for Newry and Armagh.

"I have no doubt, given the leadership of President Obama, that George Mitchell will be able to make the adjustments which will be needed to ensure a lasting peace in the Middle East.

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