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Blair predicts new global 'agenda of consensus' with US back on board
LONDON (AFP) Jan 26, 2005
British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged Wednesday to develop a global "agenda of consensus" this year, saying the United States was once again prepared to engage with the international community.

Blair, in an interview published in the Financial Times newspaper, said that Britain's stewardship of the Group of Eight nations would be marked by his attempt to "develop an agenda of consensus".

He indicated that his close ally during the Iraq war, US President George W. Bush, was ready in his second term to re-engage internationally, even on issues which have set Washington apart from the world, like climate change.

"There is the possibility of that consensus," he said.

"The administration has... long since moved from the position that there is not an issue here," Blair said, likely referring to earlier denials from the Bush camp that global warming existed. There is an openness to discussing this."

Blair has pledged to push climate change to the top of the agenda during Britain's stint at the helm of the G8 presidency this year and its six-month tenure as president of the European Union, beginning in July.

He was expected to address the issue of climate change in a speech Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The British leader also told the Financial Times that Washington would again take the lead in Middle East peace efforts, saying "you will find in the next few weeks that there will again be a very clear direction set out by America".

He backed Bush's foreign policy doctrine, expounded during the presidential inauguration address last week, of seeking to defend democracy and promote liberty everywhere in the world.

The doctrine was "perfectly progressive" and in line with both his Labour government's values and the political desire to create longtime security.

(The Americans) know, too, that you can't just go round invading every country that you think should be a democracy. What you can, however, do is to say that you are going to encourage people to become more democratic and more open," Blair said.

The West could "never see ourselves properly secure unless we are seeing, continually, an extension of democratic rights and freedoms," he added.

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