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Tony Blair in New York

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Tony Blair is optimistic peace can be achieved in the Middle East during the administration of President Barack Obama.

Speaking this week at the 92nd Street Y in New York, the former British Prime Minister who is currently special envoy of the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations, said, when asked if peace would be possible in the next four years, "Yes, of course it's possible. The Arab world today actually wants this issue resolved, and that gives us an opportunity, because their focus is as much on Iran actually in many ways as is the focus of Israel. If we combine the bottom up with the top down, I think we can do it, but it won't work unless we understand what the root of this problem is. People haven't quite understood the fact that unless each side is convinced that the other side is going to be a safe partner for them, they're not going to do this deal."

Responding to a question about his support of President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, which led to the ouster of President Saddam Hussein, Blair said, "You go back over this a lot of times about WMD and what was known and what was not known, we based our judgment on the intelligence of the time. You can be sorry that that intelligence or some of it turned out to be wrong, but it doesn't mean it was necessarily wrong to remove him."

Blair admitted he was "very motivated by the aftermath of September 11, because I thought we needed to send a signal out across the world that we were going to be really tough on the issue."

"You can agree or disagree with those decisions, but the responsibility for the terrorism and the extremism lies with the terrorists and extremists, not with anybody else," he said.

Blair, who is also leading the Breaking the Climate Deadlock Initiative and who brought climate change to the top of the international political agenda at the Gleneagles G8 Summit in 2005, said that "the thing that's really changed is that China in particular has recognized that it's got to become part of the solution and got to help lead it."

Referring to the U.N. world climate talks taking place in Copenhagen this December, he said "The thing I think is most important is that we don't get obsessed with this or that percentage in terms of the target, what we do is agree in Copenhagen a new path towards a low-carbon economy, so we take steps that put us on that path and then we start looking at the practical measures."

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