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.


Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

Updated 29 min 46 sec ago
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Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

  • Mitiga airport was closed earlier in the day when residents reported an air strike on the Libyan capital
  • Mitiga airport offers air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents

TRIPOLI: Libya has reopened Tripoli’s only functioning airport, aviation authorities said on a post on social media on Sunday.

Mitiga airport was closed earlier in the day when residents reported an air strike on the Libyan capital, but a later Facebook post noted the arrival of an African Airlines aircraft from Istanbul.

A Reuters reporter and several residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital late on Saturday, and that it made a humming sound before opening fire on several areas.

An aircraft was heard again after midnight, circling for more than ten minutes before a heavy explosion shook the ground.

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It was not clear whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Residents had reported drone strikes in recent days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city center this time were louder than in previous days.

Residents counted several missile strikes, one of which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district in the south of the capital, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.

Authorities earlier closed Tripoli’s only functioning airport, cutting air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents. The airport in Misrata, a city 200 km to the east, remained open.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar started an offensive two weeks ago but has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.

If a drone strike was confirmed this would point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used aging Soviet-made jets from the air force of Muammar Qaddafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower and helicopters, according to residents and military sources.

The violence spiked after the White House said on Friday that US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Haftar earlier in the week.

The disclosure of the call and a US statement that it “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” has boosted the commander’s supporters and enraged his opponents.

Western powers have been divided over a push by Haftar’s forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a cease-fire.

Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli on Saturday, but no more details were immediately available.

A Reuters TV cameraman visiting the southern Khalat Furgan suburb heard heavy shelling but saw no apparent change in the frontline.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 227 people and wounded 1,128, the World Health organization said before the air strikes.

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Libya at this time.

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya.