(AFP) — UNITED NATIONS — Russia on Tuesday slammed a planned US-Polish conference on peace and security in the Middle East as “counterproductive” because of its focus on countering Iran, and said it would not attend.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced plans for the major conference in Warsaw on February 13 and 14 to be attended by ministers from a dozen countries.
Addressing the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the conference would fail to bolster Middle East security because of its “one-country aspect” and failure to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Attempts to create some kind of military alliances in the region by holding conferences and focusing on having a simplified unilateral approach that is clearly linked just to Iran are counterproductive,” Nebenzia told a council debate on the Middle East.
Such a move “just further pushes away the prospects of finding a genuine security architecture for the region,” he added.
In Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry released a statement saying Russia would not attend the meeting which is described as an “anti-Iran platform” and a bid to create conditions to weaken the Iran nuclear deal.
“Why has that conference not invited Iran, which is one of the most significant and large countries in the region?” asked Nebenzia.
Iran has reacted angrily to the planned conference and warned Poland that it could face consequences for hosting the gathering.
Pompeo first announced the conference on January 11 to bring together countries in addressing peace and security in the Middle East, and make “sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence” in the region.
The conference has also received a cool reception from European countries.
Facing a lack of enthusiasm, acting US Ambassador Jonathan Cohen described the Warsaw meeting as a “global brainstorming session” and stressed that it was “not the venue to demonize or attack Iran.”
Some of the agenda items for the conference include the humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen, missile development and cyber security, Cohen told the council.