debkafile Reports: Dismay in Washington and Jerusalem over Tony Blair’s first steps as Middle East Quartet’s envoy
Shortly after the former British prime minister stepped into his new job, he assured Russia and the Europeans that he did not mean to adhere to the US-Israeli boycott of Hamas. One of his first tasks would be to establish ties with Hamas representatives in Gaza and Damascus.
debkafile‘s Washington sources report that the British politician conveyed this intention in a telephone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin Tuesday, June 26. This assurance persuaded Moscow to drop its resistance to naming him envoy. Those sources affirm that Blair’s sudden turnaround contradicts the understandings he reached with US president George W. Bush and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on his leave-taking visit earlier this month.
German chancellor Angela Merkel is also looking askance at the new Blair strategy. Thursday, June 28, she commented: “Tony Blair’s mandate as new Middle East envoy would be limited and he would report to the international Quartet, not the other way round.”
Concern was also voiced in Washington over the new British prime minister Gordon Brown’s appointment of David Miliband as foreign secretary.
One US official remarked that if Brown, Miliband and Blair and their advisers coordinated Middle East policies, then Washington and Jerusalem had plenty to worry them.