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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK
Blair makes Middle East key test
Tony Blair
Blair said he wanted to put immense energy into the peace process
Tony Blair has said he will feel it is a personal failure if the Middle East peace process cannot be restarted.

At a Muslim Council of Britain fringe meeting at Labour's conference, the prime minister said the issue's importance went far beyond the region.

He said he hoped differences between the government and Muslim community over Iraq could be put in the past.

And he thanked the council for sending scholars to Iraq to try to secure the release of hostage Ken Bigley.

Priority

Mr Blair said the Middle East conflict had "huge symbolic reach" and was an example of the challenges humanity has in overcoming differences.

"The problem is made worse by the tremendous lack of any form of progress being made at the moment," he said.

"What happens when that occurs is the violence continues, the division becomes worse, the hatred gets worse and then the violence occurs."

But people the world over agreed the only realistic solution was two states - a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel.

Mr Blair told the meeting: "It is absolutely vital that we revive and restart this process. I can assure you I will do everything I can.

"I regard it as a priority, I regard it as something that I will feel a sense of personal failure over if we cannot get movement back into this process."

He indicated new energy could be put into the peace efforts once the US Presidential elections were over in November.


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