US announces international meeting to put pressure on Iran

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said more than 70 countries were invited to the conference, including all EU members.
Sunday 13/01/2019
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz during an interview in Warsaw. (AP)
Bringing in the EU. Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz during an interview in Warsaw. (AP)

WASHINGTON - The United States and Poland will convene an international conference on the Middle East that will seek to build pressure on Iran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

The United States and Poland, in a joint announcement, said ministers from around the world would be invited to the February 13-14 meeting in Warsaw.

Pompeo, on a multi-country tour of the Middle East, said the conference 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.”

Participants would “focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security… and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilising influence,” he added.

Pompeo has said during his Middle East trip that the United States is “redoubling” efforts to pressure Iran and has sought to convince allies that it is committed to fighting the Islamic State despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria.

Trump last year withdrew the United States 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 unravelling, although, in a shift January 8, the European Union moved to impose some sanctions on Iran.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said in a statement that, while Poland supported the European Union’s efforts to maintain the nuclear deal, the agreement “does not stop Iran from activities destabilising 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.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, posting on Twitter, said that “while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it (Poland) now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus.”

The US State Department said: “The ministerial [meeting] 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.”

A State Department spokesman acknowledged that Poland, like other European countries, supports the international accord on limiting the Iranian nuclear programme but 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.”

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