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Blair calls for credible talks after meeting Netanyahu

Activity surrounding the peace process returned to the diplomatic agenda yesterday following a week break during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. Quartet Middle East Envoy Tony Blair met yesterday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton arrives in the region today to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials. In addition, White House senior advisor Dennis Ross will arrive for meetings in the upcoming days.

Netanyahu is also scheduled to travel to Sharm el-Sheikh on Thursday to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss Palestinian and security affairs. He will be accompanied by Minister of Trade and Infrastructure Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who holds close relations with the Egyptians. Earlier in the week, National Security Advisor Uzi Arad flew to Egypt to meet with Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman to prepare for Netanyahu’s meeting.

Following his meeting with Netanyahu yesterday, Quartet Envoy Tony Blair told Sky News in an interview that time was running out to find a solution to break the deadlock in the peace process. “Our task – and I think we measure this in terms of weeks not months – is to give credibility to this negotiation and what looks very bleak at the beginning of 2011 can change very quickly if we manage to achieve that credibility,” Blair said.