Blair heading to Israel

Tony Blair is expected to make his first Middle East visit as the new Quartet envoy next week.

Jerusalem officials said Tuesday that Blair, who took the Quartet post after stepping down as British prime minister last month, was expected to arrive in Israel on Monday for a 48-hour visit that will include the Palestinian Authority.

The visit away from the media will offer Blair a chance to reorient himself as troubleshooter for the diplomatic grouping of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia as the nations attempt to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Thursday, Blair is scheduled to take part in a Quartet meeting in Lisbon, his first as envoy.

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