Blair defends his post as Mideast envoy

Sept. 30, 2011 at 10:33 AM
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LONDON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair defended his "jet set" lifestyle and his role as Middle East envoy.

Blair also denied accusations he used his role as an envoy in the Middle East to secure business contracts, The Daily Telegraph said Friday.

Blair said accusations that he gained financially from business deals in the Palestinian territories and that he lobbied the government of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for JP Morgan bank were "untrue" and "absurd."

The Telegraph reported Thursday his position as peace envoy was at risk as the Palestinian Liberation Organization seeks to declare him persona non grata. As an envoy for the Quartet on the Middle East, he mediates on behalf of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

In an interview with India's CNBC-TV18, Blair said recent allegations against him were fomented by a left-wing media establishment angry with him for creating a "New Labor" party and a right-wing establishment that still resents his winning three general elections.

"I probably spend two-thirds of my time on pro-bono activity, I probably spend the biggest single chunk of my time on the Middle East peace process which I do unpaid," Blair said, adding he fundraises for his foundation to fight poverty in Africa and his interfaith foundation in India.

"I left office [in 2007] with two people and a mobile phone," he said. "I've now got about 150 people working for me. So if what I was interested in doing was making money I could make a lot more and have a very gentle and easy life. When you talk about a jet set life, it means I spend a lot of time in jets, which is true."

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