Veteran Middle East negotiator Ross to advise Clinton on Iran

State Department names Dennis Ross as adviser for the Gulf and south-west Asia

The Obama administration has completed its foreign policy team for the interlocking conflicts of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan by appointing another high-profile former envoy as a special adviser on Iran.

The State Department announced that Dennis Ross, who served as Middle East negotiator under the Clinton and George W Bush administrations, is to be special adviser to the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, for the Gulf and south-west Asia. But it remains unclear how Mr Ross will interact with his fellow advisers who report to Barack Obama and there could be tensions among the "team of rivals".

"This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing challenges of ongoing conflict, terror, proliferation, access to energy, economic development and strengthening democracy and the rule of law," said the State Department spokesman Robert Wood in a statement announcing the Ross appointment on Monday. He said Mr Ross would provide "strategic advice and perspective on the region, offer assessments and also act to ensure effective policy integration throughout the region".

Mr Ross, whose appointment had been expected, is currently counsellor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro- Israel think-tank. In an article in Newsweek last December, he urged the US to work with European nations, the Chinese, the Japanese and Saudis – rather than the UN – to apply pressure on Iran through "smart sanctions" as part of a strategy aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions.

Mr Ross's appointment follows that of the experienced troubleshooter, George Mitchell, as Mr Obama's special envoy to the Middle East and the heavyweight Richard Holbrooke as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their appointments were announced by Mrs Clinton at an event attended by Mr Obama and the Vice-President Joe Biden on 22 January.

Iran, which has influence throughout the Middle East and the "Af-Pak" region via its strategic allies and ethnic brethren, could play a critical role in ending regional conflicts if Mr Obama's plan to engage Tehran in a "constructive dialogue" is successful. However the US President insists that he will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power which, he said earlier this month, would "set off a nuclear arms race in the region that would be profoundly destabilising".

Last week, Mrs Clinton announced that Stephen Bosworth, a former US ambassador to Seoul and a veteran North Korea watcher, will serve as special envoy to six-party talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament.

To complete his palette of foreign envoys, Mr Obama is reported to be open to the idea of a special envoy for Darfur. The actor George Clooney, who met Mr Obama on Sunday to urge him to appoint a full-time regional envoy who would report directly to the White House, told reporters that the president and Mr Biden had assured him that "this is high on their agenda". "This is a huge policy step for us," he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there