US to host Iran-focused meet­ing in Poland

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON (Reuters) – The United States plans to jointly host a global con­fer­ence focused on the Mid­dle East, par­tic­u­larly Iran, next month in Poland, the US State De­part­ment said on Fri­day.

The meet­ing will take place in War­saw on Fe­bru­ary 13-14, it said in a state­ment.

Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif dis­missed the planned event as a “des­per­ate anti-Iran cir­cus.”

US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo told Fox News on Fri­day that the meet­ing would “fo­cus on Mid­dle East sta­bil­ity and peace and free­dom and se­cu­rity here in this re­gion, and that in­cludes an im­por­tant el­e­ment of mak­ing sure that Iran is not a desta­bi­liz­ing in­flu­ence.”

Pom­peo, who is on an eight­day visit to the Mid­dle East, said the meet­ing would “bring together dozens of coun­tries from all around the world, from Asia, from Africa, from Western Hemi­sphere coun­tries, Europe too, the Mid­dle East of course.”

Pom­peo has said dur­ing the tour that the US is “re­dou­bling” its ef­forts to put pres­sure on Iran and sought to con­vince al­lies that it is com­mit­ted to fight­ing Is­lamic State de­spite Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull US troops out of Syria.

Trump last year with­drew the US from the 2015 Iran nu­clear ac­cord and moved to reim­pose sanc­tions on Tehran. Other part­ners in the deal – in­clud­ing Bri­tain, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and China – have sought to keep the agree­ment from un­rav­el­ing, al­though in a shift ear­lier this week, the Euro­pean Union moved to im­pose some sanc­tions on Iran.

Pol­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Jacek Cza­putow­icz said in a state­ment that while his coun­try sup­ported the EU’s ef­forts to main­tain the nu­clear deal, the agree­ment “does not stop Iran from ac­tiv­i­ties desta­bi­liz­ing the re­gion” and he hoped the con­fer­ence would bring closer the EU and US po­si­tions.

He said more than 70 coun­tries were in­vited to the con­fer­ence, in­clud­ing all EU mem­bers.

Writ­ing on Twit­ter, Iran’s Zarif said, “Re­minder to host/ par­tic­i­pants of anti-Iran con­fer­ence: those who at­tended last US anti-Iran show are either dead, dis­graced, or marginal­ized. And Iran is stronger than ever.”

He went on to write, “While Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts des­per­ate anti-Iran cir­cus.”

The US State De­part­ment said there were strong shared in­ter­ests in Mid­dle East sta­bil­ity.

“The min­is­te­rial will ad­dress a range of crit­i­cal is­sues in­clud­ing ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism, mis­sile de­vel­op­ment and pro­lif­er­a­tion, mar­itime trade and se­cu­rity, and threats posed by proxy groups across the re­gion,” its state­ment said.

On his Mid­dle East tour, Pom­peo is try­ing to shore up sup­port in the re­gion on a num­ber of fronts, from the US troop with­drawal from Syria to the rift be­tween Saudi Ara­bia and Qatar to the killing of US-based Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi.

(Reuters)

ABU DHABI’S Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan speaks with US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo at the Al-Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day.

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