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Blair Opens Conference On Palestinian Reform

1 March 2005 -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair today opened an international conference on Palestinian reform by saying progress in solving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has "global implications."

"I hope what today will allow us to do is to set out very clearly the Palestinian Authority plans in the fileds of governance, security, the economy. Set out also what the international community could do in each of thsese areas to support the Palestinian Authority," Blair said.

Blair told representatives from more than 20 nations at the one-day meeting in London that "there is no more pressing political challenge" than to help Israel and the Palestinians make peace.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, are attending the conference. So are Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

Israel is not taking part.

The discussions are expected to focus on ways to support reforms of Palestinian security forces and political institutions.