Muslim engagement

The state department said Pandith, who is a Muslim, would be responsible for helping US efforts to "engage with Muslims around the world on a people-to-people and organisational level".

In depth
The statement said Pandith was previously the senior adviser on Muslim engagement in the European and Eurasian region at the state department and had worked in the Afghan capital, Kabul, with the US Agency for International Development.

The appointment is part of Obama's attempts to improve relations with Muslims around the world.

In a speech in Cairo earlier this month, Obama said there had been "years of distrust" between the West and Islam but he was seeking "a new beginning" in the relationship.