Blair to visit Mideast for last diplomatic trip

As he ends his last full year as British prime minister, Tony Blair travels to the Middle East on a valedictory round of diplomacy aimed at revitalizing peace hopes - and rescuing his foreign-policy legacy from the bloody specter of Iraq. During the trip, Blair is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He said earlier this week that he would press Abbas on the prospects for a Palestinian government of national unity. Blair, who plans to step down in 2007, has repeatedly said that ending the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict is key to stabilizing Iraq and achieving a broader Middle East peace. He declared in September that "from now until I leave office, I will dedicate myself ... to advancing peace between Israel and Palestine."