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Irish premier says Blair has told him he's new Mideast peace envoy

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has already accepted an appointment to become the new peacemaking envoy to the Middle East, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said Wednesday.

"I spoke to him about this on Friday night. I can tell you that's exactly what he's going to do," Ahern told Irish state broadcasters RTE. Ahern said Blair told him the mission would be "tricky, but he believes if there's persistent engagement - it's like in Northern Ireland, where you just have to stay at it. ... He believes if you have hands-on, persistent engagement then you can have real progress. ... He is going to put a large amount of his personal time into this after today."