Despite denials, Tony Blair reportedly offered to aid Trump on Mideast
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Despite denials, Tony Blair reportedly offered to aid Trump on Mideast

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said to confirm to British government veracity of reports; ex-UK PM also said to have met Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with then Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair, on June 17, 2014 (Youtube screen cap)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with then Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair, on June 17, 2014 (Youtube screen cap)

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly told the British government that former UK prime minister Tony Blair did in fact offer to assist US President Donald Trump in trying to reach an Israel-Palestinian peace deal, The Daily Mail reported Sunday.

Following a report last week in the daily tabloid’s sister publication The Mail on Sunday that Blair met with Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner in February to discuss working for the Republican president, a spokesman for the former British prime minister denied that Blair wants to advise Trump on the Israel-Palestinian peace process, calling the story “an invention.”

However, according to Sunday’s report, officials from the State Department and White House confirmed to the British government that Blair did reach out to the Trump administration to offer his help. The report said British Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and Ambassador to the US Kim Darroch were all reportedly caught off guard to learn of the news.

The Mail cited “a well-placed source” in its report last week saying that “Blair has been pitching hard for this job and Trump’s people are taking him very seriously.”

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive for a joint press conference by US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House on February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive for a joint press conference by US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House on February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

The tabloid said Blair met with Kushner three times since September, including a three-hour meeting in late February at the White House.

According to Sunday’s report in The Mail, Blair arrived in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after his most recent meeting with Kushner.

The report did not say if the prime minister was aware of Blair’s reported outreach to the White House.

Blair, who led the center-left Labour Party, was Britain’s prime minister from 1997 to 2007.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in Washington, D.C., February 15, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in Washington, D.C., February 15, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Despite being from the opposite side of politics, he enjoyed close relations with Republican US president George W. Bush.

Blair won three general elections but his role in leading Britain into the war in Iraq alongside Bush has hurt his legacy.

After leaving office, Blair was the envoy of the Middle East Quartet until 2015. The group comprises the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.

Blair has taken prominent stances in recent months. In a high-profile speech last month, he urged Britons who support the European Union to “rise up” and persuade Brexit voters to change their mind about leaving the bloc.

AFP contributed to this report.

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