Tony Blair’s foreign policy speech on Monday night may not have heralded a new era of relations with Iran and Syria, but analysts say it did represent a change in perspective. The British leader called on both countries to help stabilise Iraq. But he denied critics’ claims he was going soft on Damascus and Tehran:
“In other words a major part of the answer to Iraq lies not inside Iraq itself but outside it in the whole of the region where the roots of this global terrorism are to be found. This is what I call a whole Middle East strategy. And there is a fundamental misunderstanding that this is about changing policy on Syria and Iran,” he said.
Blair will share those views today with a US bipartisan panel reviewing policy on Iraq. President Bush spoke to its members yesterday and was cool on the idea of talking to Syria and particularly Iran. But both London and Washington are facing growing domestic pressure to bring their troops home.
More so Bush after the Democrats’ recent triumph in the Congressional elections. Iran has said it would consider any official
US request for talks. However, diplomats said it would be difficult for the US and Britain to seek Iranian help over Iraq while both are pushing for UN sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.