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US Vice President Mike Pence speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Prime Ministers office in Jerusalem.(Photo by: REUTERS/ARIEL SCHALIT/POOL)
Netanyahu to meet Pence, Pompeo this week in Warsaw at U.S. conference
Prime minister says he will meet other leaders as well, though he did not give any names
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that he will meet with US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later this week at a US-sponsored ministerial summit in Warsaw, called to “promote a future of peace and security in the Middle East.”

The prime minister said that he will also meet with other leaders, though he did not provide any names. Representatives from nearly 80 countries, including from Arab states, have been invited to attend. It is not clear, however, what other heads of government or state will participate.

“The first issue on the agenda is Iran – how to continue preventing it from entrenchment in Syria, how to thwart its aggression in the region and, above all, how to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.

The two-day summit will begin in the Polish capital on Wednesday. On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be meeting in Sochi with the leaders of Iran and Turkey to discuss the situation in Syria.

The Palestinian Authority turned down an invitation to attend the Warsaw conference and called on other Arab countries to do the same.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special representative for international negotiations, are scheduled to attend. The two are expected to roll out Trump’s long-awaited Mideast peace blueprint sometime after the April 9 Israeli elections, and reportedly will update participants at the meeting on the plan.

Pompeo announced the Warsaw summit last month during a trip to Bahrain, saying that the meeting will “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.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin downplayed the Warsaw summit as “anti-Iranian in nature.”

In an interview with the Russian media featured on the Russian Foreign Ministry website on Friday, Vershinin said that he did not think the summit could add anything toward “a long-term settlement in Syria and in the region.”

He also noted that the summit “does not include topics that are very relevant for the region, such as the Palestinian problem and its just settlement,” adding that: “This forum can hardly give the result that we all would like to see in terms of security and stability in the Middle East.”

The pan-Arab, London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported last week that six committees are expected to be set up at the Warsaw summit, charged with “changing Iran’s behavior in the region,” and dealing with issues such as terrorism, extremism, ballistic missile development, the safety and security of naval passages, and human rights issues.

In addition to meeting Pence later this week, Netanyahu is expected to meet with Trump at the end of March, when he travels to Washington to attend the annual AIPAC policy conference.
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