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Olmert, Blair Expected to Meet Tuesday in Jerusalem


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Mideast peace envoy Tony Blair are expected to meet Tuesday in Jerusalem ahead of a U.S.-sponsored peace conference later this year.

Mr. Blair is on a two-week regional tour.

He serves as special envoy to the international quartet on Middle East peace, which consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

On Monday, Mr. Olmert tried to downplay expectations for the Mideast peace conference, which is expected in November.

He said he is not sure if he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be able to complete a draft on Palestinian statehood before the conference. Mr. Abbas wants a timetable for implementation, while Mr. Olmert wants a more general "declaration of principles."

Mr. Blair, who stepped down as Britain's prime minister in June after 10 years in office, plans to have detailed talks during his tour with Israeli and Palestinian officials on economic and security issues.

Mr. Olmert will also meet this week with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch.

Prime Minister Olmert warned on Monday that Israel will not hesitate to attack anyone in efforts to stop Palestinian militants in Gaza from firing rockets into southern Israel.

He spoke after a rocket exploded near a nursery school in Sderot. There was no casualties. The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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