Pompeo says 'confronting Iran' key to Mideast peace

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WARSAW, Poland-Vice President Mike Pence, speaking before leaders from more than 50 countries, offered a stinging rebuke of leading European nations for their back-door efforts to help Iran skirt USA sanctions, demanding these countries follow the White House's lead and scrap the landmark nuclear deal, which has been on life support since President Donald Trump abandoned the Obama administration's chief foreign policy achievement.

They were accompanied Thursday by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, as Poland and the United States were co-hosting an global conference in Warsaw on security in the Middle East.

The PM thanked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for organizing the event, which he called a historic turning point.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Haaretz in Warsaw, "I look forward to seeing the plan once it is presented". He's long boasted that Israel has clandestinely developed good relations with several Arab states, despite a lack of official ties. Pompeo says there's no peace without confronting Iran. Similarly, in October, Israeli Foreign Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev made an official state visit to the United Arab Emirates' Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

The Jerusalem Post reports that, although Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar have all sent representatives to Warsaw for the conference, Palestinian Authority officials are boycotting the USA -sponsored confab due to the Trump administration's 2018 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and its relocation of its Israeli embassy to that capital.

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The one top European official that did show up - at least for the opening session - was UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, who on Wednesday expressed a desire to see peace in Yemen.

"I do not ignore the threats of the Iranian regime, but neither am I intimidated by them".

"We want to bring together countries with an interest in stability to share their different views and break out of traditional thinking", Pompeo said.

Forty years ago this month, the mullahs seized control of the country - and every year since, they have supported terrorist proxies and militias like Hezbollah, Hamas, and al Qaeda, exported missiles, and fueled conflicts in Syria and Yemen and beyond, ' he said.

Pence praised other nations for complying with USA sanctions by reducing Iranian oil imports, but said the Europeans fell short. "They should take this into account", Netanyahu said.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to hold a simultaneous summit in the resort of Sochi with Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the future of war-ravaged Syria.

A Palestinian official said the conference lacks credibility.

But just as notable were the absences, not only of Iran itself - which called the meeting a "desperate circus" - but of the Palestinians, who refused to attend over what they regard as US bias against them under Trump.

European powers, who oppose the Trump administration's decision to pull out of a nuclear deal with Iran, were openly sceptical of a conference excluding Tehran.

Pompeo on Thursday called for a "new era of cooperation" in resolving Middle East challenges and said no country could afford to remain on the sidelines.

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Retweeting him, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif retorted: "We've always known Netanyahu's illusions".

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