Blair cancels Gaza visit because of 'threat' | world | Hindustan Times
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Blair cancels Gaza visit because of 'threat'

world Updated: Jul 15, 2008 14:04 IST

International Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair cancelled what would have been his first trip to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday because of a security threat, his spokeswoman said.

"Unfortunately we had to cancel the visit because of a specific security threat... we had to turn back on the road," Ruti Winterstein told AFP.

She said the former British prime minister was committed to visiting the impoverished Palestinian territory and hoped to schedule another trip at a later time.

Blair, who was appointed representative of the Middle East peace Quartet more than a year ago, was to visit a waste water treatment plant in northern Gaza and to discuss humanitarian activities.

He was also expected to meet the commissioner general of the UN Palestinian refugee agency, Karen Abu Zaid, and the body's local director, John Ging.

Blair had not planned to meet any representatives of Hamas, the Islamist movement that seized control of Gaza in June 2007 from forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

But Hamas had welcomed the visit and said on Monday it had made the appropriate security preparations.

The Quartet, which has been seeking to advance peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, consists of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.