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Bartiromo & Blair One-on-One

Maria Bartiromo interviewing Tony Blair
CNBC.com
Maria Bartiromo interviewing Tony Blair

Since his term as British Prime Minister ended in June 2007, Tony Blair devotes much of his time and energy to the Middle East peace process.

As UN Special Envoy to the Middle East, Blair has met with both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work on a roadmap to peace.

In an interview on Closing Bell, Blair told Maria Bartiromo he has two goals - to “work out the terms of the context” for negotiations and to “build a Palestinian state from the bottom up.” Blair sees the West Bank economy strengthening and is working with the leadership to sustain that growth, hoping to “give people some stake in the future.”

The Middle East is also a region that Blair sees as one of the few bright spots in the world, alongside India and China. Blair recently spent some time in China, and said “it’s quite hard to see any signs of economic slowdown there.” Still, he said the big question rests on the developed world and whether it can “move out of a sort of bouncing along the bottom recovery and move to something stronger?”

Bringing the discussion a little closer to home, Bartiromo asked Blair to weigh in on how the British economy is faring. While Blair believes that the worst is over, he thinks that people are still not confident about the economic situation. “It has been such a shock to the system,” he said, “ that it will take time for people to recover confidence completely”.

Adding to that uncertainty is the upcoming general election. With a showdown slated for 2010 between current Prime Minister Gordon Brown and opposition leader David Cameron, Bartiromo tried to get Blair to wager a guess on who might be the next Prime Minister. Blair was careful not to predict the outcome, but said, “Having been the Labour Prime Minister, I’m rooting for the Labour Party.”

That will be one interesting election to watch from across the Atlantic, given the growing popularity of Cameron and declining approval rating of Prime Minister Brown.

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