[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/21/art.mitchell.gi.jpg caption="Mitchell has been tapped as Mideast envoy."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned that President Obama will name former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as his special envoy for the Middle East during an event at the State Department Thursday afternoon, according to a senior administration official.
The move, which is meant to send the signal that Obama is planning to get actively involved in trying to help broker Mideast peace early in his term, will be announced at a 2:40 pm ET event with newly sworn-in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In recent days, Obama officials have talked to Israeli, Palestinian and Arab diplomats about the choice, sources close to the administration and diplomats told CNN.
Mitchell served as a Mideast envoy for the Bush administration, authoring a 2001 report that called for a halt to Israeli settlements and greater Palestinian efforts to crack down on terror.
He also was a peace broker on Northern Ireland for President Clinton.
Mitchell is one of several envoys who will work in the new administration. Sources say that Dennis Ross, a former Mideast peace envoy for several previous administrations, will be an envoy in charge of engaging Iran, but it’s unclear what role he’ll play given Mitchell’s appointment. Former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who negotiated peace in the Balkans, is also expected to be named as an envoy dealing with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.