Peace agreement in Mideast possible within year
( dpa ) - The Mideast Quartet's special envoy Tony Blair thinks a peace agreement in the Middle East is possible by the end of the year, he said in an interview published by The Times Saturday.
"This is a deal that could definitely be done, and it could definitely be done this year," the former British prime minister told the paper.
The most important thing, according to Blair, was to answer the question whether the Middle East was to become a moderate and modern region or one dominated by "a particular and exclusive and wrong- headed view of Islam and a major threat."
"There is nothing more important to world peace than resolving this question," he said.
Blair said he trusted in the peace efforts made by the United States.
"The American engagement in this has altered significantly both in quality and quantity in the past two months, there is no doubt about that," Blair said.
"I am unworried by the fact that it is President Bush's last year in office," he said. "Firstly, President Bush is immensely popular in Israel. Secondly, I did the Northern Ireland deal the month before I left."
It was important both to take seriously Israel's security concerns as well as giving the Palestinians a perspective that the occupation would be lifted at some point, Blair said.
Blair gave up his role as prime minister in London in June before being nominated special envoy for the Mideast Quartet.
The Mideast Quartet consists of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
Blair has taken on several advisory roles with investment banks alongside his Mideast activity.