The United States and Israel are expected to lead a new push to pressure Iran at a US-sponsored Middle East conference in Warsaw. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Vice President Mike Pence, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are set to address the 60-country gathering on February 14.
Tehran has labeled the meeting as a hostile act and warned of unspecified consequences for Poland. Most major European countries sent only low-level officials, and European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini is staying away.
Washington and its EU allies are at odds over the fate of the 2015 nuclear agreement that saw Iran curtailing its nuclear ambitions in exchange for Western countries lifting crippling economic sanctions. President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to undo the deal and reimpose sanctions. EU states criticized the move and sought to keep aspects of the deal in place.
Russia and China are also not participating in the Warsaw conference and neither are the Palestinians.
A US administration official said late last month that the conference was “not an anti-Iran meeting or a coalition-building exercise,” but that Pompeo will discuss what the official called “Iran’s destructive policies in the region.”
Speaking to US public broadcaster PBS from the Polish capital, Pompeo said on February 13 that “the threat from Middle East instability is real,” and that Iran had “enormous influence” on the region.
“There are shared interests there between the Saudis, between the Emiratis, between the Bahrainis, the Jordanians, the Israelis. All understand that their nations are at risk from Iran,” he said.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said in a videotaped interview in Hebrew that Israel and Arab states were meeting to advance a common interest — “war with Iran.” His office later issued a new release referring to a “common interest of combatting Iran.” Addressing a press conference in Tehran earlier in the day, Zarif said that he believed the Warsaw conference was “dead on arrival.”
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