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Blair Invites Palestinians to Britain to Revive Peace Process - 2002-12-16

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is inviting Palestinian leaders to London in January for talks on reviving the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Blair told parliament Monday he wants the talks to focus on Palestinian political reforms and ways of getting the Middle East peace negotiations back on track.

He did not identify the Palestinian officials who will be invited to the London conference, and there is no indication that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will attend.

Mr. Blair said the four chief Middle East mediators, the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, also will send representatives.

The British prime minister has been pushing for new Middle East peace talks, and had earlier expressed hope for a peace conference before the end of this year.

Mr. Blair has frequently argued that peace in the Middle East should be pursued with as much vigor as the war against terrorism and the suspected weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.