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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Prime Minister Tony Blair farewell Tour

Tony Blair is to embark on a farewell trip to Libya, Sierra Leone and South Africa as part of some of the last major tours of his premiership before he steps down from office next month.

Blair will "utilize" the visit to "rally the world's richest countries to help ease the plight of the poorest nations" and to focus on new agreements on climate change.

Blair will meet with Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, who Britain and the US persuaded to give up its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

The Prime Minister will also try to highlight his so called "foreign policy successes" during a visit to Sierra Leone, where British troops helped shore up UN peacekeeping efforts in 2000 to hasten the end of the country's civil war. From there he will head to South Africa.

In South Africa Blair will hold talks with President Thabo Mbeki and deliver a major policy speech on Africa. Under Britain's previous G8 presidency, the leading industrialized countries promised to double aid to Africa by 2010 and wipe out more than £20bn of poor nations' debt. The humanitarian crisis in Darfur is also likely to be high on the agenda in his talks with African leaders.

The visit takes place ahead of the G8 summit during which Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to press rich nations to fulfill aid pledges to Africa.

Meanwhile, Blair has come in for some sharp criticism at home for spending his last few weeks in power globe trotting at taxpayers' expense.

Tory leader David Cameron has accused him of behaving like a "pop star" on a farewell world tour which serves no purpose but to "indulge his vanity." Labor MPs are also said to be frowning over Blair's "farewell tour," which has taken him to the US, France and Iraq.

And that's not all. Further trips are also being planned before he hands over power to Gordon Brown on June 27, including a trip to visit the Pope in Rome.


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