The White House is pressing British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be made a special envoy to work on forming a Palestinian state after he steps down, reports said Thursday. American newspapers cited unnamed officials as saying that Bush administration was laying the groundwork for Blair to be appointed as an envoy for Palestinian state-building.
If he accepted the job, he would represent the diplomatic Quartet for the Middle East, comprising the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. David Welch, the US assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, met with Blair in London on Wednesday, according to the New York Times.
White House and State Department officials refused to confirm or deny reports linking Blair to the new job, but State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the appointment of a new envoy was critical. "I think that the idea has some merit. Clearly, there needs to be some more consultations on the matter," McCormack said, according to AFP. "But as for particular individuals, at this point I'm certainly not going to get into it."
Blair is due to step down as prime minister on June 27 after 10 years in power. Under the Bush administration's plan, he would report to the Quartet and focus on Palestinian internal issues, the Washington Post said, citing officials. The Post said Israel had welcomed the prospect of making Blair an envoy when Bush discussed the idea with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert earlier this week.