Cheney, who previously worked in the department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and left to work on her father's 2004 re-election campaign, will become the bureau's principal deputy assistant secretary of state.

This is the bureau's second ranking position and deputises for the assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, the top US diplomat for the Middle East.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters Cheney would also serve as "coordinator for Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiatives" - a US-backed idea to try to spread democratic and economic reform in the region.

"Her duties will include a focus on US bilateral and multilateral efforts to support freedom, democracy and expanded education and economic opportunities in the broader Middle East and North Africa," he said.