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Blair to Launch New Israeli-Palestinian Peace Push

British Prime Minister Tony Blair launches a new bid to advance the Middle East peace process later Tuesday, with visits to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Mr. Blair, who has made reviving the Middle East peace process a priority, is expected to meet with his Israeli counterpart, Ariel Sharon, before heading to the West Bank for talks with Palestinian leaders.

International diplomacy aimed at bringing Israel and the Palestinians together for peace talks have intensified since the death of Yasser Arafat last month.

Earlier Tuesday, the British leader paid a surprise visit to Iraq, meeting with interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in Baghdad and visiting British troops in the southern city of Basra.

It was Mr. Blair's first visit to Baghdad. He has twice previously visited British troops stationed around Basra.

Some information for this report provided by AP.