Tony Blair has denied a report that he is pitching to be Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy.
Blair, who served as special representative of the quartet of international powers for almost eight years after leaving Downing Street, met the US president’s son-in-law and key adviser, Jared Kushner, at the White House on Wednesday, according to the Mail on Sunday.
It was said to be the third meeting between Blair and Kushner since September. Kushner, 36, is championed by Trump as the man to bring peace to the Middle East.
A spokeswoman for Blair said she would not comment on private meetings but insisted there had been no discussions about the former prime minister working for Trump, describing the report in the Mail on Sunday as an “invention”.
She added: “Mr Blair has made no such ‘pitch’ to be the president’s Middle East envoy.
“Neither has he had any discussions about taking such a role or any role working for the new president. He has been working on the peace process for 10 years. He continues to do so. He does so in a private capacity. He will continue to do it in that way. Period.”
The statement did not deny that meetings with the Trump administration had taken place.
Blair received plenty of flak during his time working for the quartet, which comprises the US, EU, Russia and the UN. He took up the role in 2007 shortly after stepping down as prime minister, with doubts raised immediately over his suitability because of his involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
He later faced criticism from Palestinian officials who believed he was too close to Israel and more interested in its needs than promoting Palestinian issues. He also came under scrutiny for the lack of progress in the peace process during his tenure and his extensive business activities in the Middle East, which led to repeated accusations of conflicts of interest.
Speculation about Blair working for the Trump administration first surfaced last November when he was spotted dining with Kushner in New York.
On that occasion, Blair’s office said the pair had known each other for several years and dismissed reports suggesting they were discussing a job for him as “overblown” and “beyond speculation”.
Trump has said Kushner would be able to “secure an Israel deal which no one else has managed to get”. However, doubts have been raised about the 36-year-old’s ability to succeed where more experienced negotiators have failed, given his lack of diplomatic experience and that he is scarcely known in the region.
The husband of Ivanka Trump, Kushner grew up in a modern Orthodox Jewish household, and is the grandson of Holocaust survivors. He contributed to a speech his father-in-law delivered to a pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in the spring, which included a promise to challenge Iran and to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.