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Talks over Blair's Middle East role

Tony Blair is in discussions about a change in his role in the Middle East.

The former prime minister represents the quartet - the United States of America, United Nations, Russia and the European Union - as Middle East peace envoy working with the Palestinians.

His role is expected to become more regional although it is likely to continue to include work on the Palestinian economy.

But s enior diplomats told the Financial Times Mr Blair was being eased out. They said: "It is long overdue. He has been ineffective in this job. He has no credibility in this part of the world."

Mr Blair took on the role after standing down as prime minister in 2007 but his tenure has been controversial.

Critics have attacked the lack of progress achieved in the region and last year three former British ambassadors backed a campaign calling for him to be sacked and accused him of trying to ''absolve himself'' of responsibility for the crisis in Iraq.

A senior source in the US administration said: "Our position is clear. Tony Blair has been a valued partner in trying to bring peace to the Middle East and we will continue to value his input and support."

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