Blair ‘poised to step back’ from Mideast role

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks with international broadcaster Nik Gowing at an economic conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Saturday, March 14, 2015.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks with international broadcaster Nik Gowing at an economic conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Saturday, March 14, 2015.


Tony Blair is poised to step back from his role with the diplomatic Middle East Quartet, the Financial Times reported Sunday, citing several people familiar with the situation.

The former British prime minister has discussed his position with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini, the business daily said, adding that news on his amended role could come later this week.

“His move comes amid deep unease in parts of Washington and Brussels over his poor relations with senior Palestinian Authority figures and sprawling business interests” including with regional governments, the FT said.

Blair was appointed to the unpaid position in 2007 by the informal Quartet comprising United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia, to lead efforts to support the Palestinian economy and institutions in preparation for eventual statehood.

He has no formal role in the peace negotiations but the lack of progress on that front has led critics to question what he has achieved in almost eight years, while his perceived closeness to Israel has also drawn frustration on the Palestinian side.

Blair has also come under fire in Britain, where he is still deeply unpopular for taking the country into the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and for his consultancy work with sometimes controversial governments around the world.

A spokeswoman for the Office of Tony Blair declined to comment on the FT report when contacted by AFP.


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