The Latest: Pence calls on Europe to unite with US on Iran


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The Latest on the Middle East meeting taking place in Warsaw (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia says Moscow didn’t participate in the Middle East security meeting in Warsaw co-hosted by Poland and the United States “because we don’t see a value added in the conference.”

He told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that “to build coalitions against somebody, against countries, and in this case particularly against Iran, will not help to solve numerous issues which confront the Middle East.”

Nebenzia said: “This is the wrong way to do it.”

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At Thursday’s close of the conference, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz both noted differences of opinion over policies toward Iran. But, they said all participants agreed on the threat posed by the country.


7:30 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has released a video from a closed session at the Warsaw security summit in which Bahrain’s foreign minister says Iran is a bigger threat to Mideast security than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the video, Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid Al Khalifa, tells an audience that he grew up believing that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is “the most important issue” in the region. But later, he said, “we saw a more toxic one, in fact the most toxic in our modern history, which came from the Islamic Republic, from Iran.”

Netanyahu often boasts of warming behind-the-scenes ties with Arab leaders. But very rarely are they seen in public.

It was unclear whether Bahrain Thursday agreed to leak the video, which bore the insignia of Netanyahu’s office.


6:50 p.m.

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Poland’s foreign minister says the European Union shares the view of the United States that Iran currently plays a negative role in the Middle East but have differences on what should be done about it.

Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said Thursday at the end of an international Middle East conference Poland co-hosted with the United States that Iran wasn’t the focus of the event.

But he said it became clear during debates the “EU and the United States share their diagnosis of the situation, see Middle East problems in a similar way, including – let’s say it openly – the negative role of Iran.” but came up during debates.

Czaputowicz says where EU members and the U.S. differ are the appropriate “mode of action” to contain any threat Iran poses, especially 2015 Iran nuclear deal the Trump administration withdrew from.

He said he hoped the conference would lead to a Middle East peace process.


3:20 p.m.

The Trump administration says it will unveil its much awaited “Deal of the Century” after the Israeli election on April 9.

Trump’s senior Middle East adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner, briefed participants at a Mideast conference in Poland Thursday about the plan. A diplomat who saw the presentation said Kushner wouldn’t go into details but said the plan would be released sometime after Israel’s election.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity according to protocol.

The diplomat quoted Kushner as saying that Trump had given him the Israeli-Palestinian “file” to give the long-elusive goal of a peace agreement “a shot.” Despite the long odds, he said he believed “privately, people are much more flexible.”

The Palestinians have preemptively rejected the plan, saying the Trump administration is biased toward Israel.

–By Aron Heller


3:05 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have laid wreaths at the monument to the heroes of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to pay tribute to the Jewish fighters who opposed German Nazi troops.

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

In April 1943, hundreds of young Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto took up arms against the Nazi German army and fought for their dignity but also to liberate Poland from the occupying Germans.

The revolt ended in death for most of the fighters, yet left behind an enduring symbol of resistance.


2:45 p.m.

Poland’s prime minister says the Middle East security conference that Poland is co-hosting with the United States will be a success if participants openly discuss their views on how to bring peace to the region and if it produces a working group that will be further addressing the issues.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday addressed participants at the conference in Warsaw that the sponsors say is aimed at promoting peace and security in the Mideast but appears to be mainly focused on isolating Iran.

Morawiecki said he will consider the meeting a success if it brings together governments “that do not agree on all things” and if it becomes a “place of open debate and exchange of arguments for peace for the region.”

He said he hoped it will start a working group that will be “addressing all issues mentioned here today.”

The issues included fighting extremism, including cyberattacks, forging an approach toward Iran and stopping conflicts in the region that are driving millions of people from their homes.


1:15 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is calling for America’s European allies to join it in withdrawing from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal and stop efforts he said are designed to evade U.S. sanctions.

Speaking at a Middle East conference in Poland, Pence accused Iran of being the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism. He lamented that Britain, France and Germany created a special financial mechanism that Washington believes is aimed at “breaking” tough U.S. sanctions on Iran. Those sanctions were eased by the Obama administration under the terms of the nuclear deal but were re-imposed after President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement last year.

U.S. and European divisions over Iran led France and Germany to opt against sending their top diplomats to the Warsaw conference.


8:55 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the world “can’t achieve peace and security in the Middle East without confronting Iran.”

Pompeo spoke Thursday before the opening session of a Middle East security conference in Warsaw. Appearing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo says “pushing back” against Iran is central to dealing with all the region’s other problems. Several high-profile Arab dignitaries are also attending.

The U.S. and Poland are sponsoring the conference, which they say is aimed at promoting peace and security in the Mideast but appears to be mainly focused on isolating Iran.

Iran has denounced the gathering as an American anti-Iran “circus.” Russia has said it will not attend, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is also skipping the event.

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