Move comes after Friedman stepped down

NEW YORK — ABC News has retained former CNN-U.S. prexy Rick Kaplan to bolster its coverage of a possible war with Iraq.

Kaplan, who’s also an ABC News vet, has signed on for three months to work for the Special Events department.

The news of his hire comes on the heels of the recent departure of exec veepee Paul Friedman, who stepped down to become a special consultant at the net.

Friedman would likely have led the network’s coverage of the conflict.

“This looks to be a particularly busy time for all of us covering the news,” said ABC News division prexy David Westin in a statement. Kaplan is “eager to get back in the game, and he can add his skill and experience to our exceptional team.”

Kaplan ran CNN’s U.S. operations from 1997-2000, when he stepped down. He then took up teaching at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center.

During his 18-year stint at ABC, Kaplan served as executive producer of “World News Tonight With Peter Jennings,” “PrimeTime Live,” “Nightline” and “Good Morning America.”

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