U.S., Poland plan global meet­ing to pres­sure Iran: Pom­peo

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

MANAMA: The United States and Poland will hold an in­ter­na­tional meet­ing on the Mid­dle East that will seek to build pres­sure on Iran next month, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said Fri­day.

Pom­peo ar­rived in Bahrain as part of his nine-na­tion tour of the Mid­dle East aimed at re­as­sur­ing U.S. al­lies after Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s shock de­ci­sion to with­draw all U.S. troops from Syria, which sparked con­cerns among Arab states and Is­rael that Iran’s in­flu­ence could grow.

The United States and Poland in a joint an­nounce­ment said that min­is­ters from around the world will be in­vited to take part in the Feb. 1314 meet­ing in War­saw.

Pom­peo told Fox News 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.”

They will “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,” the top U.S. diplo­mat added.

The State De­part­ment did not im­me­di­ately re­spond when asked which coun­tries would at­tend.

Its state­ment 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,” it said.

A State De­part­ment spokesman ac­knowl­edged that Poland, like other Euro­pean na­tions, sup­ports the in­ter­na­tional ac­cord from which

Trump ex­ited last year on end­ing the Ira­nian nu­clear pro­gram.

The War­saw meet­ing “sends an im­por­tant sig­nal that coun­tries with dif­fer­ing views on the nu­clear deal can come to­gether to ad­dress other crit­i­cal is­sues in the re­gion,” the spokesman said.

Poland, led by a right-wing pop­ulist gov­ern­ment, is a long­stand­ing U.S. ally that has bet­ter re­la­tions with Trump than key Euro­pean pow­ers Ger­many and France.

Pom­peo, in the mid­dle of his eight-day trip through the re­gion, has said the United States is “re­dou­bling” its ef­forts to put pres­sure on Iran and sought to con­vince al­lies in the re­gion that it was com­mit­ted to fight­ing Daesh (ISIS) de­spite Trump’s re­cent de­ci­sion to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

Trump with­drew the United States from the 2015 Iran nu­clear ac­cord, de­spite the other part­ners in the deal – in­clud­ing China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the United King­dom want­ing to re­main in the agree­ment.

Trump reim­posed sweep­ing sanc­tions on Iran and in a shift ear­lier this week, the EU moved to im­pose some sanc­tions on Iran. Trump’s hard­line stance on Iran has been cheered by re­gional U.S. al­lies Saudi Ara­bia and Is­rael.

Pom­peo kicked off the Gulf por­tion of his tour after a stop in Cairo, where he de­liv­ered a scathing re­buke of for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Mid­dle East poli­cies that Obama had out­lined in a 2009 ad­dress to the Arab and broader Mus­lim world.

In a speech en­ti­tled “A Force for Good: Amer­ica’s Rein­vig­o­rated Role in the Mid­dle East,” Pom­peo ac­cused the for­mer pres­i­dent of “mis­guided” think­ing that di­min­ished Amer­ica’s role in the re­gion while harm­ing its long­time friends and em­bold­en­ing Iran.

He un­loaded on the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for be­ing naive and timid when con­fronted with chal­lenges posed by the re­volts that con­vulsed the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing Egypt, be­gin­ning in 2011. And, he said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion was tak­ing ac­tion to re­pair the dam­age. – Agen­cies

Pom­peo walks with Vice Adm. James Mal­loy after a tour of the U.S. Naval Forces Cen­tral Com­mand cen­ter in Manama.

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