0545 GMT February 22, 2019
“It is another attempt by the United States to pursue an obsession with Iran that is not well-founded,” Zarif told a Tehran news conference, according to AFP.
“The Warsaw conference, I believe, is dead on arrival.”
Zarif said not even Washington had any interest in the conference as a forum for an exchange of views among the 60 participating countries.
“I think the fact that they are not aiming to issue any agreed text but rather are just attempting to use their own statement on behalf of everybody else shows they don’t have any respect for it themselves,” he said.
“You usually don’t bring 60 countries and states together in order to speak for them. That indicates that they don’t believe they have anything to gain from this meeting.”
Much of the schedule for the conference remains vague amid deep divisions over policy towards the region, where Washington has adopted the deep hostility towards Iran of its allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Major countries absent
Washington is represented by both Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but major European allies are sending low-profile delegations amid unease over President Donald Trump’s strident calls to strangle Iran’s economy.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is the only major European diplomat to come to Warsaw, but he is attending primarily to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where several million people are on the brink of starvation.
Russia is shunning the conference. In Warsaw, Turkey said it will only send embassy staff to the conference among its NATO allies.
Even Poland’s right-wing government – eager to please the United States – has made clear it supports the 2015 nuclear deal, to which UN inspectors say Iran is abiding.
“The European Union and the United States see the same threats in the Middle East; we sometimes differ on how to solve these crises,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told a joint news conference with Pompeo.
Poland, whose ambassador in Tehran was summoned in protest, has taken pains after Pompeo’s initial announcement to emphasize that Iran is not the sole focus of the conference.
“The EU does not have enough political weight to really try to influence the situation in the Middle East,” Czaputowicz said, adding that all “democratic nations” needed to come together to resolve longstanding tensions in that region.
Trump administration’s isolation
Ned Price, a former Obama adviser and intelligence official, said that the Warsaw conference will only showcase the Trump administration’s isolation as European allies did not want to be part of an “anti-Iran pep rally.”
“More than merely embarrassing, the administration’s stated ‘maximum pressure’ approach is incoherent, as America lacks allies willing to support such a strategy,” said Price, now at the National Security Action pressure group.
The main session will take place on Thursday when Pence, Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are all scheduled to address the conference.
But except for Israel, some Arab states and the Trump administration, nearly all countries still back an accord negotiated under previous US president Barack Obama under which Iran agreed to accept limits to its nuclear activities in return for the easing of crippling economic sanctions.