Friday, 20 Sep 2019 - 20 of Elul, 5779

Eleven Mideast countries at Warsaw conference on Middle East stability

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WARSAW—Eleven Middle East countries will  participate in the Mideast Conference that will take place in Warsaw, Poland , on 13-14 February.

Israel will be joined by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Egypt and the UAE.

At a press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said his country will not participate. Iran, Turkey, Syria and Russia are also not attending.

US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be at the conference but it is unclear at this stage whether states will be represented by their foreign ministers or by junior ministers and senior officials. Also expected to attend are President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace team of senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

Pompeo announced the Warsaw summit last month during a trip to Bahrain, saying that the meeting 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 destabilising influence”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to attend and make a speech that focuses on Iran. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is reportedly not attending and Germany will be represented by a senior Foreign Ministry official. UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is attending, but France has not yet announced who will be attending.

The conference was initially thought by EU members to be an attempt by the US to build an anti-Iran coalition and sabotage a united EU policy on Iran. Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz later confirmed that the summit is an “in-depth discussion on the situation in the Middle East and the way it should be done to solve these problems, alleviate conflicts, ensure peace and stability”.

Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot quoted a high-ranking Polish official who said: “Why is our country, which is thousands of kilometres away from the conflicts in the Middle East and in which it has no role, either positive or negative, volunteering to be a platform for anti-Iranian speech? This doesn’t serve Poland’s global interests.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) reportedly rejected an invitation to attend the conference. On Monday the PA called on Arab nations to boycott or downgrade their representation. PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said  that the Palestinians “view the Warsaw conference as a plot against the Palestinian cause.”

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