President Bush is expected to nominate one of his closest friends, Karen Hughes, to lead a State Department effort to improve the reputation of the United States among Muslims in the Arab world.

The 48-year-old Ms. Hughes is expected to be nominated next week as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, a position that requires Senate confirmation.  Ms. Hughes will join Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in leading the president's push for democracy in the Middle East.

Ms. Hughes has been one of President Bush's closest advisors since he became the governor of Texas 10 years ago.

The position of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy has been vacant since last June when Margaret Tutwiler resigned after only six months on the job.

Some information for this story provided by Reuters.