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Middle East Envoy Blair Cancels Visit to Gaza Due to 'Security Threat'


A spokesman for international Middle East envoy Tony Blair says the former British prime minister has canceled his trip to the Gaza Strip because of a security threat.

Mr. Blair was to tour an internationally-funded waste water treatment plant in the north of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and meet with United Nations and other humanitarian officials.

But his spokesman says a "specific security threat" would have made it irresponsible to proceed with the trip. He did not elaborate on the threat, but he said Mr. Blair hopes to visit the coastal territory at a later date.

Israeli authorities confirmed they had alerted Mr. Blair to a security threat before his arrival.

Hamas officials Tuesday dismissed reports of a threat and accused Israel of pressuring Mr. Blair into canceling the trip. The officials said they had made appropriate security preparations for Mr. Blair's visit.

Mr. Blair's trip would have marked the first visit of a top Western diplomat to Gaza since the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's forces last year. Mr. Blair was not scheduled to meet with any Hamas representatives during his trip.

Mr. Blair is an envoy for the Middle East Quartet of international peace brokers. The Quartet includes the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

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


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