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Blair, Middle East Quartet to Meet in Lisbon


The international Quartet of Middle East mediators is meeting in Lisbon Thursday with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the group's new peace envoy.

Discussions are likely to focus on Mr. Blair's plans, as well as President Bush's announcement Monday that he would like to hold an international conference on reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The Quartet, which consists of the U.S., Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union, was originally scheduled to meet in June. But the meeting was postponed after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Blair accepted his post as the Quartet's peace envoy after he stepped down as British Prime Minister in June.

Top representatives at the meeting include U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Rice praised Blair's appointment to the Associated Press Thursday, saying he is dedicated to building a better Middle East.

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

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