Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Blair: I will do whatever I can for Middle East peace
Contributed by Lucia
Haroon Siddique and agencies
Tuesday June 26, 2007
"Tony Blair today declared himself ready to do "whatever he can", when asked whether his future after leaving No 10 will see him take up the mantle of Middle East peace envoy. His words were the strongest indication so far that he will be charged with helping to bring about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the special representative of the EU, UN, US and Russia - the so-called Quartet - once he steps down from power.
Reports suggest the Quartet is ready to appoint Mr Blair on the back of intensive lobbying from the US, despite scepticism in some quarters about how his appointment will be viewed by Palestinians......
The prime minister could face strong opposition from those in the Middle East who feel his copybook has been blotted by the invasion of Iraq, his close association with George Bush and his failure to call for a ceasefire during Israel's bombardment of Lebanon last summer.
The idea of Mr Blair doing this job is understood to have originated with the prime minister himself in conversation with Mr Bush, who then suggested it to the UN.
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is said to be a keen supporter and Washington was reported last night to have mounted "an enormous push" to ensure Mr Blair got the post......
Though his standing in the so-called Arab street may be low he is held in high regard by Arab political elites....."