World’s attention turns to Warsaw as delegates fly in for two-day Middle East conference
Representatives from dozens of states including the US vice president and the prime minister of Israel have flown into Warsaw to attend an international conference aimed at tackling some of the problems racking the Middle East.
Held, for the most part, in the National Stadium of the right bank of the River Vistula, the two-day conference, which starts Wednesday evening, will bring a certain amount of world attention to the Polish capital as diplomats wrestle with issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Yemen and Iran.
A number of big names have turned up in Warsaw. US Vice President Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, have all added their weight to the gathering, along with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign minister.
In total about 60 countries will have representatives at the conference although some notable absentees include the Palestinian Authority, which has refused to attend, stating the real goal of the conference was to promote rapprochement between Israel and Arab states, something it opposes.
Despite this, in a joint statement released just before the start of the conference, Pompeo and Jacek Czaputowicz, the Polish foreign minister, said that they wanted its words to be followed by concrete measures.
“Our broad goal is to hear every nation's unscripted, candid ideas for how to make progress on these issues, and more,” they wrote. “As our fellow foreign ministers know, multilateral meetings are often pro-forma exercises in giving prepared statements. Not this one. Our hope is that real conversations will drive real action.”
Kushner is expected to reveal the first elements of US peace-plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the event is also expected to focus heavily on Iran.
The conference was announced last by Pompeo last month in a speech critical of Iran. The speech, and the continued focus on the Trump administration of the alleged threat posed by Iran, has prompted speculation that the Warsaw conference will be used by the US government and Israel to rally support against Tehran.
This has placed Poland in something of an awkward position. The country, as an EU member, still supports the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Trump walked out on last year so will not want to see the conference become an assault on Iran and the deal it still maintains plays a role in maintaining peace in the region.