Blair Debuts as Mideast Envoy

Ex-PM the only one smiling as he tackles plan to build a viable Palestinian state
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Jul 23, 2007 3:12 PM CDT
Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Ilah al- Khatib, right, shake hands with Former British prime minister who is the Middle East Quartet's new envoy Tony Blair, left, in Amman, Jordan, Monday, July, 22,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Less than a month after vacating 10 Downing, Tony Blair jumped into his new role as Mideast peace envoy today, meeting Jordanian and Israeli leaders in Jerusalem. Tomorrow he  sits down with  Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas, and Wednesday with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert. Blair remains upbeat in the face of what many have dubbed Mission Impossible, and is in "listening mode," Reuters reports.

Blair's first task for the Quartet—the US, the UN, the EU and Russia—is to draft a plan for a viable Palestinian state, a challenge made all the more daunting by the rift between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the now-Hamas-led Gaza Strip.