Blair to press Iranian, Syrian role in ME peace

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will urge the international community to engage Iran and Syria to advance the peace process in the Middle East, and will defend his government's close relationship with the United States as he delivers a major foreign policy speech Monday. The address to the Lord Mayor's banquet at London's Guildhall comes the day before he is to speak Tuesday by video-link to the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan Washington commission trying to devise a new course for the war in Iraq. Blair's speech will focus both on Britain's place in the global community and on building peace in the Middle East, according to planned excerpts released in advance by his office. He intends to urge the international community to make clear to Syria and Iran how they can assist the process - and the consequences of hindering it.