The move is seen as part of an effort by the White House to improve its image in the Arab world.

 

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will announce Powell, currently head of personnel at the White House, as her choice for assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs and deputy undersecretary of state for public diplomacy at noon (1700 GMT) on Monday, the officials said.

   

Powell, who came to the United States from Egypt as a child, will serve as deputy to Karen Hughes, a long-time confidante to President George Bush who was to be officially named undersecretary of state for public diplomacy at the same State Department ceremony on Monday.

   

The choices of one of Bush's closest advisers and of an Arabic speaker illustrate the emphasis the White House attaches to trying to improve the way Arabs view the United States, long seen by Arabs as favouring Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and resented for supporting repressive Arab governments.