Under fire, Blair to visit Middle East on peace mission

December 30th, 2008 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 30 (IANS) Former British premier Tony Blair is to visit the Middle East next week to try and broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, according to a report Tuesday.Blair, the Middle East envoy for the EU, Russia, the US and Britain, is to meet Israeli and Palestinian officials and politicians in his efforts to bring an end to a conflict that has killed 300 people so far.

Blair Monday spoke with senior figures, including Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, the Independent reported.

The Quartet envoy has faced calls in Britain to step up diplomacy.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey told the paper: “At this crucial moment for the Middle East, Tony Blair has been conspicuous by his absence.”

“As Middle East peace envoy, he has the authority to put pressure on both sides for an immediate ceasefire. Tony Blair’s efforts to improve security and the economy on the West Bank have so far produced less than modest dividends. It’s time he started earning his salary.”

Blair has visited the Middle East for a week each month since taking up the envoy’s primarily economic role after stepping down as British prime minister, but is yet to visit Gaza.

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