Friday, July 21, 2006

Blair to Visit White House to Discuss Middle East, Iran

President George W. Bush and his closest ally, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, will meet in Washington next week to discuss the crisis in the Middle East, the Iraq war and Iran's nuclear ambitions, the White House announced.

Blair will visit the White House on July 28. READ MORE

The two leaders also will talk about trade and the genocide in Darfur, a White House statement said. Blair last came to Washington in May to meet with Bush to discuss the strategy in Iraq after the formation of a new government there. Since then, sectarian violence has escalated and the United Nations reported this week that an average of 100 civilians a day were killed in June.

The conflict in the Middle East is now in its 10th day and Israel and the Hezbollah militia have vowed to continue the fighting that has left more than 300 Lebanese and 34 Israelis dead since it began July 12 when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers.

As many as 1 million people in Lebanon may be affected and much of the infrastructure in Beirut and surrounding areas has been destroyed, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in an appeal for an end to the violence. The U.S. hasn't endorsed calls for an immediate cease fire.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Dodge in Washington at