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Eleven Middle East countries to attend Warsaw conference

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday that eleven Middle East countries will participate in the Warsaw Conference scheduled on 13-14 February.

Israel will be joined by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Egypt and the UAE. Yesterday, 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. 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 newspaper Yediot Ahronot quotes 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. Osama Qawasmi, member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and its spokesman, said: “The Warsaw conspiracy aims at liquidating the Palestinian cause and is an American-Israeli attempt to pass the deal of shame and to spread ideas not acceptable to anyone other than those who are traitors to Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Holy Sepulchre.”