Netanyahu to Attend American-Polish Mideast Conference in Warsaw

Netanyahu's attendance at February conference, previously slammed by Iran as a 'circus,' will follow his reported trip to India and may be succeeded by his attendance at the Munich Security Conference

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a press conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv on April 29, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend the international conference in Warsaw, sponsored by the United States and Poland, aimed at promoting peace and stability in the Middle East. 

The United States said earlier this month that the conference is not aimed at demonizing Iran, which has denounced the gathering as America’s anti-Iran “circus.”

Haaretz reported on Tuesday that Netanyahu is trying to arrange another visit to India, scheduled for the second week of February. Indian media outlets report the government is interested in an additional security deal with the Israeli arms industry. The two previously met in India a year ago.

Netanyahu may combine his attendance at the Warsaw conference with a stop at the Munich Security Conference.

U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the UN Security Council that it is also not aimed at discussing the merits of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal known as the JCPOA, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.

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Cohen’s comments followed complaints from Iran directed at Poland for co-hosting the conference and a tweet by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denouncing it as a U.S. anti-Iran “circus.” Poland’s foreign minister Jacek Czaputowicz said in remarks published Monday that Iran wasn’t invited and Russia would not attend.

Looking ahead to the Warsaw conference, Cohen said there will be “a dynamic discussion and collaborative thinking with the goal of contributing to a more peaceful, stable and prosperous Middle East.” He added that this would be “a more productive approach” than the Security Council’s monthly Mideast meetings focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Cohen said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has outlined a clear strategy to reach a new comprehensive deal with Iran built on the shared global understanding that Iran must cease its destabilizing activities.”

Pompeo, who recently completed a Mideast tour bringing the Trump administration’s anti-Iran message to the region, said while in Qatar that he hoped the Warsaw conference will allow the world to see “the enormous coalition that is prepared to assist in creating stability and peace here in the Middle East.”

“We’ll work on many issues including how it is we can get the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave more like a normal nation,” Pompeo said.

AP contributed to this report