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Blair snubs Netanyahu on Arafat

London, Dec. 21: British Prime Minister Tony Blair snubbed Israeli foreign minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday amid growing tensions over his plan to hold a Palestinian conference in London next month.

Netanyahu, on a tour of Europe in an effort to isolate Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, pressed his case in London with British foreign secretary Jack Straw. But his request to meet the Prime Minister was turned down, though Blair will see Amram Mitzna, the leader of Israel’s opposition Labour Party, next month ahead of the Israeli elections.

British officials said Blair’s decision not to receive Netanyahu, a rival to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was deliberate. He has previously entertained Israeli foreign ministers such as Shimon Peres, a member of the Labour Party, which is more amenable to compromise with the Palestinians than the ruling Likud bloc.

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