British Prime Minister Tony Blair has promoted the conference on Palestinian reforms he is hosting next month in an article published in an Egyptian newspaper. Mr. Blair writes that the conference could be a crucial step on the road to Palestinian statehood.
Prime Minister Blair wrote that the two-day conference scheduled for mid-January can help to ensure that Palestinian reform is effective, and help advance the cause of peace.
His comments in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, underline his belief that moving forward with reforms now would promote the roadmap for peace drafted by the so-called quartet trying to advance the peace process: the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.
Mr. Blair wrote that strengthening Palestinian democracy and rebuilding civil and security structures is an important prerequisite for proceeding along the path the quartet has outlined.
The quartet envisions the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2005 and Mr. Blair said the international community should now be working to boost the chances of the roadmap being implemented successfully.
Mr. Blair said he has asked Yasser Arafat to send a delegation to the London conference, to join officials from the quartet, as well as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.