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UK's Brown to name West Asia envoy - report

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to appoint UN official Michael Williams as his West Asia envoy, a newspaper reported today.

Williams, a British former journalist and Foreign Office adviser, is the United Nations' special coordinator for the West Asia, a post he has held for less than three months.

The Guardian newspaper said Brown was expected to name Williams as his Middle East envoy next week.

Brown's office described the report as ''pure speculation''.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ''We're aware of the speculation. As the situation currently stands he is the UN special representative to the West Asia.'' Williams could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Guardian said Williams' appointment would open the possibility of a clash with the work of Tony Blair, who Brown succeeded as prime minister a month ago.

The Quartet of West Asia mediators -- the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia -- appointed Blair as an envoy. On his first visit to the region in his new role this week, Blair spoke of a ''moment of opportunity''.

Blair and Brown, his long-serving finance minister, had a tense relationship during their decade as the most powerful men in the British government.

As prime minister, Blair also appointed a West Asia envoy, Lord Michael Levy.

Brown's government is expected to put the stress on economic development in Gaza and the West Bank, seeing this as an essential building block to peace in the West Asia.

Williams was appointed to his current post by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on May 15 and has played a key role relaying messages between Israel and Syria.

He replaced Alvaro de Soto, whose farewell report contained allegations that UN policy in the region had failed because it was subservient to US and Israeli interests.

Williams has previously served as a West Asia adviser to the secretary-general and as a senior official in UN peacekeeping missions in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia.

REUTERS PD RK1814

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