Brown to Appoint Own Mideast Envoy as Michael Williams

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to appoint his own envoy to the Middle East in a move that could spark a conflict with his predecessor Tony Blair, who was named the Quartet's envoy to the region, and comes as another sign of the premier's independe

Brown to Appoint Own Mideast Envoy as Michael Williams
The paper has learnt that United Nations special co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Michael Williams was picked by Brown for the new post.

The 58-year-old, a former BBC journalist, worked as a special adviser to former British foreign secretaries Robin Cook and Jack Straw.

Brown notified UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting in New York earlier this month of his choice.

Williams' role was previously carried out under Blair by the former prime minister's close friend and the governing Labour Party's main fundraiser Lord Michael Levy.

Williams is expected to be confirmed in the job next week, according to the paper.

Conflict

Williams will have to work alongside Blair, who was appointed as a special envoy for the Middle East Quartet of the UN, United States, Russia and the European Union.

Diplomats speaking to the paper on the condition of anonymity spoke of a possible conflict between Williams and Blair, especially when it comes to the economic file of the Palestinians.

"If he works on the economic road map, Williams will be playing on the same pitch as Blair, and Blair is a bigger and a better player," said one.

On Friday, July 27, Blair briefed diplomats from 21 countries, including the US and Russia, and 10 international organizations, on his first trip to the region, which took him to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and the Gulf last week.

Experts say Brown's move suggests that he wants to have his own policy for the Middle East.

The Guardian also said Williams would be welcomed by the Palestinians and other Arab countries, as they saw Levy as too close to Israel, while Blair was widely believed to be influenced by Washington and Tel Aviv.

Blair, who stepped down as prime minister late June after 10 years in office, had been seen in the past four years as US President George W. Bush's poodle.

He was Bush's most trusted ally, putting his political future on the line by backing the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite rows with European allies and fierce political attacks at home.

Newsweek said in its latest edition that Blair is actually taking up his new job without a real mandate or authorities, which virtually renders his mission "symbolic" and keeps him in the same mould as Washington's "frontman."

James Wolfensohn, the former special envoy for the Middle East Quartet, has accused the US administration of thwarting his efforts on the job, saying that he was in the eyes of the US administration "every anything but a nuisance."

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Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Temmuz 2007, 11:33
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