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British PM Refuses to Set Resignation Date


British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for an end to speculation on when he will leave office. He says for now he wants to stay focused on his job.

Mr. Blair said in an interview published Friday in The Times of London that he is not ready to set a date. He called on people to accept that as a reasonable proposition and let him get back to his work.

Mr. Blair has promised in the past not to seek a fourth term in office. He has also said he will plan his departure to allow ample time for his successor to take over before the next general election.

That election must take place no later than 2010. Finance Minister Gordon Brown is expected to step in when Mr. Blair resigns.

Mr. Blair has been prime minister for nine years. Public opinion polls have shown a sharp drop in support for both Mr. Blair and and his Labor Party. The party opens its annual conference September 24.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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