Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Crusading Blair Faces Pakistan Test

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Crusading Blair Faces Pakistan Test

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLES REISS

TONY BLAIR'S claim to a "pivotal role" in world affairs faces a critical test today as he embarks on the final stages of his Asia trip.

The Prime Minister arrived in Pakistan following talks in India aimed to "calm" the tension which has brought the two countries to the brink of war.

However his impact in Delhi was muted at best, amid evidence that India resents outside interference.

The United States is reported to be in retreat over proposals for President Bush to despatch a special envoy to the region after public protest from the Indian government.

Mr Blair spoke to President Bush today but after the 15-minute telephone call the British side said the Prime Minister was not carrying any new peace proposals either on his own behalf or that of the President.

Instead, Mr Blair and his Indian counterpart, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, signed a New Delhi Declaration which even the Indian leader dismissed as "bland". …

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