Two weeks before visit, Obama appoints new Middle East coordinator


President Barack Obama has appointed a new coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf, the White House announced Saturday.

Philip Gordon, a veteran foreign policy expert, will take up his post on March 11.

The appointment came two weeks before Obama is set to visit Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and Jordan.

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon praised Gordon as a “key member” of Obama’s foreign policy team. “His work with our European allies and partners has been indispensable in helping us to formulate policy and address issues around the globe, including Libya, Syria and Iran,” Donilon said.

“His work on international security, international economics and European and Middle Eastern Affairs make him the perfect person to coordinate our policy.”

He joins a team that includes Puneet Talwar, special assistant to the president and senior director for the gulf states Iran and Iraq, and Prem Kumar, acting senior director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Gordon has served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs since 2009, with responsibility for U.S. policy in 50 countries, as well as NATO, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Before that, he was a foreign policy adviser to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and served as director for European affairs at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton.