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U.S., Poland set up global conference to pressure Iran

The Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, walks with Vice Adm. James Malloy, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, after a tour of the command center in Manama on Friday.

AFPABU DHABI (AFP-Jiji) — 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 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. 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 U.S. 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 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,” it said.

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 U.S. 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.

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.

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 U.N.-backed nuclear accord.

But Trump’s hardline stance on Iran has been cheered by regional U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Israel.Speech

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