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Iran summons top Polish diplomat to protest US-led summit in Warsaw next month

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mocked Trump over his Saudi comments, saying perhaps Tehran was also responsible for the California fires 'because we didn't help rake the forests'
OZAN KOSE (AFP)
Iran's foreign ministry said it would be "forced to retaliate" if Poland did not back down.

On Sunday, Iran called on Poland to refrain from co-hosting an “anti-Iran” summit on the Middle East in Warsaw in cooperation with the United States next month, according to Iran’s Tasnim News agency.

“This is a hostile US move against the Islamic Republic of Iran and Poland is expected to refrain from keeping the US company in holding such a conference,” the Eastern European division of Iran’s foreign ministry reportedly told Polish Charge d’affaires Wojciech Unolt, the country's top diplomat in Iran.

Poland's charge d'affaires was summoned to "protest the anti-Iranian so-called peace and security conference," said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi on his Telegram channel.

He was told "this is a hostile act by the United States against Iran and Poland is expected to refrain from going along with the US in holding this conference," Ghasemi added.

Poland is set to host the “Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East,” in cooperation with the United States on February 13-14.

Unolt reportedly told foreign ministry officials that Warsaw does not share recent remarks made by the US against Iran, and that the summit would not be "anti-Iran."

Iran's cinema organisation said it had cancelled a Polish film festival scheduled for next month, according to local media. 

"A guest who does not honor their host cannot continue to be a guest. To honor Iran's dignity, the Polish film week in Tehran will be postponed until Warsaw's behavior is proper," tweeted cinema organisation chief Hossein Entezami, according to the semi-official news agency ILNA.

The Iranian official said this was inadequate and Iran would be "forced to retaliate" if Poland did not back down.- (AFP)

Iran poured scorn on the meeting and pointed out that the country, then impoverished after invasion by Britain and the Soviet Union, welcomed more than 100,000 Polish refugees during World War II.

"Polish Govt can't wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts a desperate anti-Iran circus," Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted earlier this week.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the summit would “focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element on making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing force,” in an interview with Fox News on Friday.

The goal of the meeting is to “bring together dozens of countries from all around the world, from Asia, from Africa, from Western Hemisphere countries, Europe too, the Middle East of course,” Pompeo said.

The Iranian official said this was inadequate and Iran would be "forced to retaliate" if Poland did not back down.

The US’ top diplomat is currently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on one of the final stops in a Middle East tour aimed at reassuring US allies following President Donald Trump’s shock announcement that the US would be pulling all of its 2000 troops from Syria.

Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (POOL/AFP)

The US Secretary of State arrived in Bahrain on Friday, marking the first leg of a tour of Gulf monarchies which Washington says are "critical" to confronting Iran and jihadists.

The US top diplomat flew in to Manama from Cairo and has already visited Amman, Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Arbil.

He will also visit the other five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

State Department officials have said Pompeo hopes his trip will strengthen the GCC, which has been weakened by a diplomatic rift that has pitted Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar for more than 18 months.

The State Department has said that a "united Gulf Cooperation Council the backbone for regional peace, prosperity, security and stability" and key to countering Iran.

It said Pompeo would also work with regional leaders to advance a proposed Middle East Strategic Alliance -- a NATO-style security pact.

During his talks in the Gulf, Pompeo is also expected to discuss the conflict in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Iran-linked rebels since March 2015 despite a growing international outcry over the human cost.

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