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Blair Arrives in Israel in Efforts to Restart Mideast Peace Process
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British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Israel on Sunday night for talks aimed at trying to restart Middle East peace process, while internal Palestinian violence exploded across the Gaza Strip.

Blair touched down in Tel Aviv in the evening from Iraq and is due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday before his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier in the day, Blair, who is in his regional tour, arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit, where he said to lend support to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to curb sectarian violence in the war-torn country, al-Jazeera English channel reported.

During a joint news conference with Maliki shortly after his arrival in Baghdad, Blair called on all countries in the Middle East region to support the Iraqi government.

On Saturday, Blair talked about the Palestine issue and voiced his support to President Abbas' call for new elections in a bid to break the stalemate between his Fatah faction and the Hamas-led cabinet, a deadlock that has degenerated into worsening street violence between the rival groups.

(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2006)

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