LONDON – British Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) said Sunday that he expected U.S. President George W. Bush (search) to lead final status negotiations on the creation of a Palestinian state after negotiations to make such a state viable.
Blair said a London conference on strengthening and reforming the Palestinian administration, its security forces and financial situation would take place March 1-2. He said talks would be used to prepare Palestinians for the possibility of a proper state.
"If we can provide the help for the Palestinians to develop that basic infrastructure of a viable state, then (Bush) is prepared to do the negotiations that make it viable in terms of its territory too," Blair told British Broadcasting Corp. TV.
"If we can get that conference successfully moving ahead and then the Israelis disengage from part of the occupied territories, then I believe that President Bush will be willing in those circumstances to get back into the roadmap and get back into the conferences that can lead to a proper final status resolution."