Saturday 3 May 2003

U.S. hawks seeking to block plan worry Blair

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is keeping in close contact with U.S. President George W. Bush, to prevent U.S. hawks from killing the roadmap, a British source revealed.

Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, the source, who insisted on anonymity, said Republican hawks have been using everything in their power to undermine the administration's support for the new Middle East plan.

The road map, which was announced on Wednesday following the Palestinian Legislative Council endorsement of Mahmoud Abbas' (Abu Mazen) Palestinian cabinet, has been ready for almost a year but delayed – at least on two occasions – by the U.S. at the request of Israel's right-wing government.

Though they are small in number, the so-called neo-conservative group who work closely with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, have been very influential and seem to be the driving force behind U.S. foreign policy.

The source believes these hawks have begun pre-emptive moves to "sabotage the president's long-awaited declaration of the road map to put the Middle East peace process back on track".

The hawks' aim, according to the British source, is to suggest that the peace plan leading to create an independent Palestinian state by the year 2005 "is against U.S. national interests".

These charges have become worrying for Blair when two leading neo-conservatives closely linked to the Bush administration, former speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich and a leader in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Tom Delay, started to sell this idea to the public.

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