Thursday, December 23, 2004

Blair moves forward on Middle East peace

There appears to be a degree of cautious optimism over Blair's latest Middle East peace initiative:
Mr Blair had behind the scenes talks with both Mr Sharon in the Israeli capital and later in Ramallah with Mr Abbas, where he also bowed his head in front of the grave of Arafat - although stopped short of the politically sensitive move of laying a wreath.

Downing Street officials travelling with Mr Blair announced a guest list and title for the London summit, which - bereft of Israeli participation - will focus on the newly elected Palestinian Authority.

The conference, now slipping from an originally mooted January to a possible date in early March, will see representation from the "quartet" of the US, Russia, the EU and UN, plus foreign ministers from Russia, Canada, South Africa, Egypt, Norway, Jordan and Tunisia, as well as representatives from the World Bank.

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