TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran criticized on Sunday Tony Blair’s appointment as Middle East peace envoy but welcomed his successor as British prime minister, Gordon Brown.
“He did not have a good background and a good reputation in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said when asked about Blair’s new post as envoy for the international Quartet.
“I doubt that this appointment would … have a positive impact on the developments of the Middle East region,” he told a news briefing.
The Quartet — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — appointed Blair on Wednesday, the day he stepped down after 10 years as British prime minister.
Under Blair, Britain has played a leading role in Western efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear program. Iran denies accusations it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Britain also took part in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Tehran blames the presence of foreign forces for the violence there and have called on them to leave its neighbor.
Arabs have also said they doubted Blair could succeed as regional peace envoy because of his unpopularity and because he is too close to Israel and the United States.
They said Blair had little credibility in the Middle East because he took part in the invasion of Iraq, opposed an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon last year and failed to follow up on many promises to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Brown, who served as finance minister throughout Blair’s premiership, has vowed to revitalize the ruling Labour Party and learn from what he called the divisive Iraq war, although he still backs the decision to join the 2003 invasion.
Hosseini said Iran welcomed Brown’s appointment.
“We hope that in Britain’s new Labour government, proper and unbiased decisions will be made in regard to regional and international developments,” he said.