DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign ministry summoned a senior Polish diplomat to protest at Poland jointly hosting a global summit with the United States focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said the summit — to be held in Warsaw over Feb. 13-14 – would focus on stability and security in the Middle East, including the “important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence”.
An Iranian foreign ministry official told Poland’s charge d’affaires in Tehran that Iran saw the decision to host the meeting as a “hostile act against Iran” and warned that Tehran could reciprocate, IRNA added.
“Poland’s charge d’affaires provided explanations about the conference and said it was not anti-Iran,” the agency added.
The Polish foreign ministry could not be reached for comment.
Relations between Tehran and Washington are highly fraught after the decision in May by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and to reimpose sanctions, including on Iran’s oil sector.
CHANGING IRAN’S “BEHAVIOR”
Speaking in Qatar on Sunday, Pompeo said the aims of the summit will include changing the “behavior” of Iran, which Washington accuses of destabilizing the region and supporting terrorism. Tehran denies the accusations and says U.S. military presence in the Middle East causes tensions and instability.
“We will gather around a number of different topics … fighting ISIS is part of that … and address how we can get the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave like a normal nation,” Pompeo told reporters in Doha.
“There will be countries from Asia, Africa and all across the world. It won’t be confined to the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.”
The United States and its regional ally Saudi Arabia back opposing sides in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria as well as rival political groups in Iraq and Lebanon.
On Friday Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Poland for hosting the meeting and wrote on Twitter: “Polish Govt can’t wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus.”
Zarif was referring to Iran hosting more that 100,000 Polish refugees during the Second World War.
Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said the summit was being held because U.S. sanctions had failed to bring Iran to its knees.
“Americans thought pressures would break down our economy. They wanted to bring our oil exports to zero but failed … Now they’ve decided to hold an anti-Iran conference in Europe,” the semi-official news agency Fars quoted Jahangiri as saying.
Meanwhile, a cultural official said that a planned Polish Film Week in Iran would be canceled if the summit plans are not dropped.
“Iranians have hosted various nations and ethnic groups with open arms, especially the Poles,” Hossein Entezami, head of the Cinema Organization of Iran, said on Twitter.
“To protect the honor of Iran and Iranians, the holding of the Polish Film Week will depend on Warsaw’s appropriate behavior.”
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom, additional reporting by Anna Koper in Warsaw and Erik Knecht in Doha; Editing by Kim Coghill, Raissa Kasolowsky and David Goodman)