Blair, Albright to host new round of Mideast talks

onths of deadlock, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain won agreement Monday for Mideast peace talks in London between Israel and Palestinian leaders.
Blair said the talks would start May 4 and be conducted by Britain and the United States.
For the time being, there are no arrangements for direct talks between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
However, Arafat said he was ready for a summit, and a senior Netanyahu adviser did not rule out the possibility if exploratory talks go well. The two leaders last met in October 1997.
Blair and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will both hold separate meetings with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Albright will deal with an Israeli troop withdrawal in the West Bank, while Blair said he will focus on economic issues.
In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin said Monday that Albright expected the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make “substantive decisions.”
Blair said Monday he would meet with Netanyahu and Arafat in hopes of making progress on several economic issues, such as the operation of a Palestinian airport and the opening of a Palestinian industrial park.
Arafat and Blair, who holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, also signed an agreement calling for greater cooperation on security issues. As part of the deal, the EU is to send instructors to train Palestinian security forces.