The officials said Monday that Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs who has guided U.S. policy through the tumult of the Arab Spring, plans to retire from the foreign service at the end of May and become a deputy to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the move has not yet been announced. Feltman is expected to be named U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs.
His successor has not been named.
The officials said several candidates, including Elizabeth Jones, a former top diplomat for Europe who now deals with Afghanistan and Pakistan, are in the running.