US to host Iran-focused world summit next month

The summit will focus on Iranian interference in other parts of the Middle East, such as Lebanon where Tehran's proxy militia Hezbollah are based. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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US to host Iran-focused world summit next month

  • Pompeo told Fox the international gathering would be held Feb. 13 to Feb. 14 in Poland
  • US President Donald Trump's top diplomat is visiting a number of Middle Eastern countries this week in an effort to shore up support in the region

WASHINGTON: The United States plans to host a global summit focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, next month in Poland, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News in an interview to air on Friday.
Pompeo told Fox the international gathering would be held Feb. 13 to Feb. 14 in Poland to "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."
US President Donald Trump's top diplomat is visiting a number of Middle Eastern countries this week in an effort to shore up support in the region amid a number of ongoing fronts.
Pompeo, in the midst of his eight-day trip through the region, has said that the United States is "redoubling" its efforts to put pressure on Iran and sought to convince allies in the region that it was committed to fighting Daesh despite Trump's recent decision to pull US troops out of Syria.
Pompeo told Fox News the summit would include representatives from countries around the world to address Iran's regional influence as the Trump administration has sought to pressure Tehran.
Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord and moved to reimpose sanctions on Tehran, even as other partners in the deal, including China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom, have sought to maintain the deal.
In a shift earlier this week, the European Union moved to impose some sanctions on Iran.


Iran’s top diplomat warns US is ‘playing with fire’

Updated 16 July 2019
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Iran’s top diplomat warns US is ‘playing with fire’

  • Iran announced last week that it had enriched uranium past the 3.67 percent limit set by the nuclear deal
  • The US quit an international deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program last year, hitting Tehran with crippling sanctions

UNITED NATIONS: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Monday that the United States is “playing with fire,” echoing remarks by President Donald Trump as the two sides are locked in a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The United States quit an international deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program last year, hitting Tehran with crippling sanctions.
Tensions have since soared, with the US calling off air strikes against Iran at the last minute after Tehran downed an American drone, and Washington blaming the Islamic republic for a series of attacks on tanker ships.
“I think the United States is playing with fire,” Zarif told NBC News.
Iran announced last week that it had enriched uranium past the 3.67 percent limit set by the nuclear deal, and has also surpassed the 300-kilogram cap on enriched uranium reserves.
But “it can be reversed within hours,” Zarif told the channel, adding: “We are not about to develop nuclear weapons. Had we wanted to develop nuclear weapons, we would have been able to do it (a) long time ago.”
Zarif’s comments came as the United States imposed unusually harsh restrictions on his movements during a visit to the United Nations.
Weeks after the United States threatened sanctions against Zarif, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington issued him a visa but forbade him from moving beyond six blocks of Iran’s UN mission in Midtown Manhattan.
“US diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either,” Pompeo told The Washington Post.
No US diplomats are based in Iran as the two countries broke off relations in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the Western-backed shah.
“Foreign Minister Zarif, he uses the freedoms of the United States to come here and spread malign propaganda,” the top US diplomat said.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters that the UN Secretariat was in contact with the US and Iranian missions about Zarif’s travel restrictions and “has conveyed its concerns to the host country.”
The United States, as host of the United Nations, has an agreement to issue visas promptly to foreign diplomats on UN business and only rarely declines.
Washington generally bars diplomats of hostile nations from traveling outside a 40-kilometer (25-mile) radius of New York’s Columbus Circle.
Zarif is scheduled to speak Wednesday at the UN Economic and Social Council, which is holding a high-level meeting on sustainable development.
Despite the restrictions, the decision to admit Zarif is the latest sign that Trump’s administration appears to be retreating from its vow to place sanctions on him as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on June 24 that sanctions against Zarif would come later that week.
Critics questioned the legal rationale for targeting Zarif and noted that sanctions would all but end the possibility of dialogue — which Trump has said is his goal.
Zarif said in an interview with The New York Times he would not be affected by sanctions as he owns no assets outside of Iran.