From Andrea Mitchell and Libby Leist
The ceremonial Ben Franklin room on the eighth floor of the State Department is packed with a who's who of diplomats and Washington power players awaiting the arrival of President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton.
One notable absence: Dennis Ross. He will not be a special envoy to Iran, senior officials tell NBC News, but he is expected to be in charge of Iran policy.
Jack Lew and James Steinberg are here directly from their confirmation hearings.
George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, who will be announced today as special envoys, are here and will walk out with Obama, Biden and Clinton.
Also in the audience -- prominent Democrat Vernon Jordan, Former Defense Secretary William Cohen, North Korea nuclear negotiator Chris Hill (a pal of Holbrooke's), and Obama foreign policy advisor Samantha Power.
Former Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk is here, but so far has not been offered a position in the Obama administration.
*** UPDATE *** Reaction from Tony Blair to the appointment of George Mitchell: "Tony Blair welcomes George Mitchell's appointment as envoy, renewing their close and productive relationship for peace and progress in Northern Ireland. It shows the true commitment President Obama and Secretary Clinton have to making real progress in the Middle East."