Blair fears for future of negotiations over Middle East peace

Peace envoy Tony Blair has warned the Middle East peace process would be "stuck" if negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians were not revived within weeks.

The former prime minister was speaking after returning from a visit to the region, in which he attempted to persuade the two sides to resume stalled talks on a two-state solution. He was followed yesterday by European Union foreign affairs supremo Lady Ashton.

Direct talks were launched last September in Washington but ground to a halt weeks later after a freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank expired. Palestinian leaders have floated the possibility of moving to statehood without Israeli agreement. In recent weeks, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador have all recognised Palestine as an independent state within its 1967 borders.

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Mr Blair said the key to restoring progress was to "give credibility to the negotiations" on a two-state solution. If there were no breakthrough in the next few weeks "then we really are stuck." Mr Blair is envoy for the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.