Amid cool response, US says Warsaw conference not aimed at Iran
search

Amid cool response, US says Warsaw conference not aimed at Iran

DC official says Polish summit led by Pompeo will explore ‘range of issues important to Mideast’s security and prosperity,’ Tehran among them; EU foreign policy chief won’t attend

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to students at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus in Abu Dhabi on January 13, 2019. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to students at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus in Abu Dhabi on January 13, 2019. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP)

WASHINGTON — A US-Polish conference next month on the Middle East is not aimed at Iran, a US official said Monday, after key players balked at attending.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to head to Warsaw for the February 13-14 “Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East,” which he earlier said would look at “making sure Iran is not a destabilizing influence.”

But the conference has drawn few concrete RSVPs amid unease over the hard US line on Iran, with EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini saying she had previous commitments even though the event is taking place in the European Union.

A senior US official, previewing the conference to reporters, said that Iran would not be a specific agenda item.

“It’s important to underscore that this is not an anti-Iran meeting or coalition-building exercise,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“From the start, this ministerial has been focused on exploring a range of issues important to the region’s security and prosperity,” he said.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, speaks during a EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) at the European Council in Brussels on November 20, 2018. (John Thys/AFP)

He said Pompeo “will certainly discuss concerns regarding Iran’s destructive policies in the region,” but said this was because “it’s difficult to talk about the region’s challenges without referencing Iran.”

The official said that the conference would discuss the crises in Syria and Yemen as well as missile proliferation, cyber issues, human rights and refugees, with working groups then tasked with following up.

The conference, which Pompeo said will draw ministers from around the world, comes almost exactly as Iran marks 40 years since its Islamic Revolution and after the United States reimposed sweeping sanctions on the country.

Iran summoned a Polish diplomat to protest the conference, which it called a hostile act.

A Polish official said that, despite serving as co-host, that Poland still supports an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program from which US President Donald Trump withdrew.

Russia has also said it will not attend the conference because of its “one-country” focus and failure to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

read more:
less
comments
more