MidEast envoy Blair in first Gaza trip

Tony Blair has visited the Gaza Strip in his first trip to the Hamas-controlled region since his Middle East envoy appointment two years ago. Mr Blair is an envoy of the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators - the US, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia which is tasked with spearheading efforts to strengthen the Palestinian economy as well as pushing for peace. Mr Blair did not meet Hamas officials during the visit, which lasted several hours. It was followed by a tour of Sderot, an Israeli town hit frequently by rockets from the Gaza Strip. In a statement, Mr Blair said: "I wanted to come to hear for myself, first hand, from people in Gaza whose lives have been so badly impacted by the recent conflict. "I will relay their account of events, their assessment of what is needed for reconstruction, their goals for rebuilding a vibrant private sector and civil society, to this weeks conference in Sharm El Sheikh." On Monday, reconstruction of the region - which was bad