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.


New envoy stresses need for UN-backed solution to Syria war

Updated 3 min 45 sec ago
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New envoy stresses need for UN-backed solution to Syria war

DAMASCUS: The new UN envoy to Syria ended his first visit to the war-torn country Thursday, stressing the need for a UN-brokered political solution to the eight-year conflict.
Geir Pedersen, a seasoned Norwegian diplomat, concluded his three-day visit and headed to the Lebanese capital Beirut, a UN source told AFP.
The new envoy on Twitter late Wednesday said he had a "constructive meeting" with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem during his stay in Damascus.
During it, he stressed the need for a "Syrian-led and -owned political solution facilitated by the UN", he added.
Pedersen, who started his new job last week, is the fourth UN envoy to seek a solution to Syria's conflict, after endless rounds of failed UN-brokered peace talks.
In recent years, UN-led efforts have been overshadowed by separate negotiations led by regime allies Russia and Iran, as well as rebel backer Turkey.
After Damascus, Pederson said he was off to meet the Syrian Negotiations Committee, Syria's main opposition group.
But he "agreed to come back to Damascus on a regular basis to discuss commonalities and progress on points of disagreement", he added.
On Tuesday, Muallem expressed Syria's "readiness to cooperate with him... in his mission to facilitate Syrian-Syrian dialogue with the objective of reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis", a foreign ministry statement said.
Pederson takes over from Staffan de Mistura, a Swiss-Italian diplomat who stepped down at the end of last year over "personal reasons".
Officials in the government of President Bashar al-Assad had set the tone for the new envoy's tenure shortly after his appointment was announced in October.
"Syria will cooperate with the new UN envoy Geir Pedersen provided he avoids the methods of his predecessor," Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad said.
De Mistura ended his four-year tenure with an abortive push to form a committee tasked with drawing up a post-war constitution.
Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since the war started with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
With key military backing from Russia, Assad's forces have retaken large parts of Syria from rebels and extremists, and now control almost two-thirds of the country.
A drive to bring the Syrian regime back into the Arab fold also seems underway, with the UAE reopening their embassy in Damascus last month.