UN chief appoints Bulgaria's Mladenov top Mideast envoy

NEW YORK - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Thursday the appointment of a new Middle East envoy.

Former Bulgarian foreign minister Nickolay Mladenov, who has been the UN chief's Special Representative for Iraq since August 2013, replaces Dutch diplomat Robert Serry, who has held the post for more than seven years.

"Mr. Mladenov brings with him extensive experience in public service and international affairs," UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters Thursday.

Mladenov will take over as Ban's Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and his Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority.

He served as Bulgaria's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2013 and Minister of Defense from 2009 to 2010.

The Middle East peace process continues to limp along, and direct peace talks remain deadlocked amid Israel's unilateral settlement-building policies in occupied lands and Palestinians’ efforts on international recognition of their statehood.

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