The prospect for peace in the Middle East is the main theme of a visit by Tony Blair to Turkey. The British Prime Minister’s visit began with talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on efforts to revive peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Analysts say Blair wants to generate new momentum among Muslim countries to help get the two sides back in talks. The British leader believes a settlement in the conflict could help bring stability to the wider region, particularly Iraq. Blair sees Turkey as a moderate Muslim ally and stresses support for its bid to join the EU.
Ankara’s membership hopes have been hit by the bloc’s decision this week to partially freeze accession talks over Turkey’s failure to normalise trade with Cyprus. But some Middle East commentators say Blair no longer has significant clout in the region because of the Iraq war and his plans to resign next year.