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Tony Blair introduces prospective client Victor Ponta to Barack Obama

Tony Blair introduced a prospective client, the Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta, to Barack Obama at last week's memorial service for Nelson Mandela

Mr Blair facilitated a three-way conversation between himself, Mr Obama and Victor Ponta
Mr Blair facilitated a three-way conversation between himself, Mr Obama and Victor Ponta Photo: FACEBOOK
He rarely misses a chance to make new friends or to nurture his already extensive network of contacts.
So it should come as no surprise that even at the memorial service forNelson MandelaTony Blair introduced a prospective client to President Barack Obama.
Mr Blair facilitated a three-way conversation between himself, Mr Obama and Victor Ponta, Romania's prime minister, in the stands of Soweto's FNB stadium.
The discussion lasted 15 minutes, according to a post on Mr Ponta's Facebook page, although he said nothing official was discussed.
Mr Blair, who runs the Government Advisory Practice which works with several regimes, has travelled at least twice to Bucharest this year to meet Mr Ponta.
In October, Mr Ponta indicated that Romania was also preparing to join Mr Blair's Global Network of Delivery Leaders, which aims to help members improve the "delivery" of services such as education, health and construction.
Tuesday's encounter, however, could prove awkward. On the same day the Romanian parliament approved controversial new changes to the country's criminal law to help protect MPs against corruption charges.
The US embassy issued a sharp response to the move, warning that a "basic tenet" of democracy is that all everyone is equal under the law.
"It is very discouraging that these revisions were passed with no consultation, no debate, and no opportunity for judicial authorities or civil society to respond to the proposed amendments," said a statement released by the embassy.
"This move by the Parliament is a step away from transparency and rule-of-law and is a discouraging sign for investors, which will negatively affect Romania's economy."
It is not clear whether the discussion between Mr Obama and Mr Ponta, with Mr Blair looking on, strayed into such difficult territory.
All three men appear to be enjoying the encounter in a series of photographs published by Mr Ponta on his Facebook page.
It took place as a result of the Romanian prime minister approaching Mr Blair following the US president's emotive tribute to Mr Mandela, sources in Mr Ponta's entourage told Romanian media.
In the photographs Mr Blair can be seen apparently crouching down behind Mr Obama, who is seated, prompting the US president to turn around to greet him and to shake Mr Ponta's hand.
The US president is then pictured standing up talking to both men with Mr Blair's wife Cherie and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish prime minister, looking on.
Following a meeting with Mr Blair in October Mr Ponta indicated that Romania was preparing to join the Global Network of Delivery Leaders, a grouping formed by the former prime minister in New York amid a meeting of the UN's General Assembly.
The network, backed by the World Bank, currently comprises six countries including Albania, Malawi and Haiti.
It is unclear whether Mr Blair's introduction took place before or after Mr Obama and Mrs Thorning-Schmidt took part in a separate, better publicised photo opportunity in the stadium - a "selfie" photograph of themselves with David Cameron.
The picture, taken on the Danish prime minister's mobile phone, drew criticism from observers who said it undermined the reverence of the occasion.
A spokesman for Mr Blair said: "As you may have noticed, there was a large number of leaders present at the funeral mingling together.
"Tony Blair has no contract with the Romanian government and if his team ever did work there it would be at no cost to the Romanian government and at no personal profit to Tony Blair."

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