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Bush to host Blair
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Photo: AP
British PM wants UN resolution
Photo: AP
Blair seeks UN resolution for Mideast crisis
British Prime Minister Tony Blair to seek quick UN resolution to resolve fighting between Israel and Hizbullah during talks with President Bush in Washington

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will seek a quick UN resolution to resolve the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah during talks with President Bush in Washington, his spokesman said Friday.

 

Speaking aboard Blair's plane as it flew to Washington, the spokesman said Britain hoped a UN resolution could be in place by next week.

 

He said Blair will try "to increase the urgency, the pace of diplomacy, in identifying the practical steps that are necessary to bring about a cease-fire on both sides."

 

"We want to accelerate discussions that are going on among the international community, identifying those who would serve in a stabilization force, and increase the tempo of putting that stabilization force together," he told reporters on customary condition of anonymity.

 

Blair is under growing pressure at home for Britain to distance itself from the US and call for an immediate end to violence between Israel and Hizbullah.

 

Many in Britain believe he should align himself with the United Nations and European Union and call for an immediate end to the fighting
in Lebanon, and use the White House meeting to press Bush to add his support to such a move.

 

An open letter published Friday in The Independent newspaper and signed by former British Cabinet ministers and ambassadors urged Blair to help broker a swift cease-fire. It warned that any continuing support for Israel's military action could become as unpopular with the public as the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

 

"The prime minister is going into the trip with some very serious issues to discuss. He is extremely focused on trying to solve these issues," said a spokesman for Blair's Downing Street office, on customary condition of anonymity.

 

During his US visit, Blair must also take account of an uproar in Britain over allegations that two US-chartered planes carrying missiles to Israel stopped to refuel at a Scottish airport without providing authorities with details of their hazardous cargo.

 

That pit stop has provoked new criticism from those who question what Britain receives in return for its "special relationship" with the US, particularly in light of divisions between the nations over international trade and climate change.

 

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