International development secretary Clare Short has set off for New York on a 'healing mission' where she will meet with top-level UN officials in a bid to discuss the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq.
The decision to send Short to New York as Britain and the US stand on the brink of war is being seen as an early attempt to bridge the huge rifts created by the collapse of the diplomatic option.
The international development secretary will meet witn UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
Short yesterday revealed that she would not resign from the government - despite calling the Prime Minister "reckless" and saying that she would go unless Britain secured UN backing for a second resolution.
Short says she is still "very critical" of the handling of the Iraq crisis.
Defending her decision, the minister said she had given serious thought to the issue - revealing that she had written her resignation statement.
She concluded that it would be "cowardly" not to contribute to tackling the problems that lie ahead.
"I know I will be heavily criticised for this decision, but we must all do what we think is right in the circumstances we are now in," she said.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said that the international development secretary had worries over the failure to put in place a road map to peace between Israel and Palestine and fears about the reconstruction of Iraq following war.
Downing Street insisted that Tony Blair "shares those concerns" and would be working to address them.
Speaking later, Short revealed that she had offered to resign last week, but had been turned down by the prime minister.
"He said to me yesterday 'You can be a very awkward person but I want you to stay. We need you for this'. That is his view," she said.
"But I am not doing it just to please him. I am doing it because I think it is what I ought to do but obviously I would have resigned if it was what he wanted me to do," she said.
The minister confessed to "turmoil" over her decision.
"I love this country and the parliamentary Labour Party. Everyone's in turmoil. I think the country should be in turmoil when it's going to war...we must all do what we think is right," she said.
"I may well be on borrowed time and so be it. At the moment, this is about Iraq and I will do what I can," she added.