Tony Blair to step back as Mideast Quartet envoy


(JTA) — Tony Blair is preparing to step back as envoy for the Middle East Quartet but wants to remain part of the peace process.

Blair has realized that his high-profile role is no longer appropriate, the London-based Financial Times reported Sunday, citing “several people familiar with the situation.”

On Saturday, the former British prime minister reportedly met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the Red Sea resort city Sharm el-Sheik to discuss a job change, according to the newspaper. Blair also spoke with U.N. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Blair has weak relations with senior Palestinian Authority figures and major business interests, the Financial Times reported, and that has caused distress in some circles of Washington and Brussels.

He has served as envoy to the Quartet — the diplomatic grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations that guides the Middle East process — for nearly eight years.

While trying to “recast” his role, Blair is “determined to remain part of the peace process,” according to the newspaper, which said an announcement of his new role could come later this week.

Blair was appointed Quartet envoy in 2007 at the request of the administration of President George W. Bush shortly after stepping down from a decade as British prime minister.

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