Mideast envoy Tony Blair pressing for easing W. Bank restrictions

Beginning his first working visit on Tuesday, Tony Blair, the international community's new envoy to the Middle East, was expected to press for easing hardships and improving living conditions in the West Bank ahead of a meeting of Mideast mediators. After talks in Egypt with President Hosni Mubarak, the former British leader met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for dinner and planned extensive talks with other senior officials during his 10-day stay, Israeli officials said. The Israeli Haaretz daily reported that Blair also requested intelligence briefings on Israel's security concerns. Blair's office said in a statement he would have "detailed discussions with Israelis and Palestinians on a range of economic and security issues."