By Agence France-Presse
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 made the announcement on a tour of the Middle East aimed at reassuring US allies after President Donald Trump’s shock decision to withdraw all US 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 February 13-14 meeting in Warsaw.
“We’ll bring together dozens of countries from all around the world,” Pompeo told Fox News.
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 US diplomat added.
The joint statement, however, did not explicitly mention Iran, saying that the meeting was focused on “creating a more peaceful and stable Middle East.”
“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.
Iran denounces Poland
Iran poured scorn on the meeting and pointed out that the country, then impoverished after invasion by Britain and the Soviet Union, welcomed more than 100,000 Polish refugees during World War II.
“Polish Govt can’t wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts a desperate anti-Iran circus,” Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.
He also posted a picture of the 1996 “Summit of Peacemakers” in the Egyptian summit of Sharm el-Sheikh involving then US president Bill Clinton, Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, and Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
Clinton had spearheaded the conference to boost Peres after a wave of suicide attacks in Israel claimed by Hamas, the militant group with ties to Iran.
“Reminder to host/participants of anti-Iran conference: those who attended last US anti-Iran show are either dead, disgraced, or marginalized,” Zarif wrote.
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 US ally that has better relations with Trump than key European powers Germany and France.
Trump has reimposed sweeping sanctions on Iran in hopes of changing the course of the clerical regime but has found no support among Western governments, which note that Tehran is abiding by the United Nations-backed nuclear accord.
But Trump’s hardline stance on Iran has been cheered by regional US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel.