The US government may be forced to call off its plan to jointly host a global summit focused on Iran and the Middle East in Poland next month, a report said.
“Diplomats said that the Polish Foreign Ministry has asked European foreign ministers to attend the conference, although some European diplomats speculated that (US Secretary of State) Mr. Pompeo might even cancel the conference last minute due to low attendance or attendance by junior-level officials,” the report carried by the Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday.
The international gathering will take place in Warsaw from February 13 to 14, the US State Department said in a statement last week.
The US said Tuesday that the controversial conference won’t be focused on Iran and will have a broader agenda.
The acting US ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Cohen, told the UN Security Council the meeting in Poland wasn’t be a “venue to demonize or attack Iran” or to reopen arguments about the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.
Rather, he said, it would be a “global brainstorming session” with an agenda on cybersecurity, humanitarian aid in Syria and Yemen, and extremism.
Offering reassurances in response to international criticism of the conference, Cohen said that the meeting also would acknowledge Iran’s “missile activity and other destabilizing actions”.
But he added, “The scope of the discussion will be much broader than any one country or set of issues.”
Pompeo announced in early January that the conference would focus on Iran as a “destabilizing influence in the region”, but the US failed to rally participation from allied countries.
European allies have balked at the conference, concerned that it would serve as a session to criticize Iran and promote the US decision to exit from the nuclear deal, further aggravating European Union attempts to salvage the deal.
Russia, a growing player in the Middle East, announced Tuesday that it had declined the invitation to the Warsaw meeting. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has indicated she won’t attend, officials have said.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called the conference “counterproductive” and asked the US why Iran, a regional power, wasn’t invited if the conference was aimed at tackling regional stability.
“Attempts to create some kind of military alliances in the region by holding conferences and focusing on having a simplified, unilateral approach that is clearly linked just to Iran are counterproductive,” Nebenzia told the council.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has slammed the conference as an “anti-Iran circus” and complained at Poland for co-hosting the event.