Source AP ©

Blair to represent Britain in key European talks

Tony Blair said Wednesday that he would handle negotiations at next month's European summit and declined to say if his successor would be part of Britain delegation. The EU stalled constitution will be among subjects.

The British leader, due to carry out one of his final tasks when he travels for the Brussels summit, was asked at his weekly questions session if he would be accompanied by incoming prime minister Gordon Brown.

"The position that will be taken at the European summit will be the position of this government and a position that has already been worked out," Blair told lawmakers, without saying whether Brown would also travel to Belgium.

Some lawmakers have questioned whether Blair should conduct negotiations over the constitution, fearing he could tie Brown to a policy the incoming leader does not support. Brown is due to take over once Blair quits on June 27

"We do not want a constitutional treaty we want a simplified, clarifying treaty and I'm sure we will get it," Blair said.

Blair's office said the leader would represent Britain at the June 21-22 meeting. But a spokesman said there was no why reason Brown, the current Treasury chief, "could not be in Brussels at the same time," speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

Britain, France and the Netherlands are leading a push for a scaled-back EU treaty, which will set down rules on how the 27-nation bloc will be run in the future and replace the draft constitution, rejected by French and Dutch voters in national referendums two years ago.

The three nations and other EU allies want to ditch some contentious parts of the draft - its name, the post of an EU foreign minister and officially designated anthem and flag - to quell public fears that a constitution would take away powers from national capitals and create a European superstate.

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