No peace in Middle East without confronting Iran first, Pompeo says

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"We are committed to doing this", he said.

"Sadly, some of our leading European partners have not been almost as cooperative" on Iran as countries in the Gulf have been, Pence said in an address to the ministerial.

"They call this scheme a 'Special Purpose Vehicle, '" Pence said. European Union leaders made their feelings known by sending low level officials to a conference attended by US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, as well as Netanyahu.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to travel to Brussels on Friday for talks with Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief.

Europe is keen to keep the UN-backed pact alive and has set up a "special goal vehicle" (SPV) enabling trade to continue by accepting payments from companies that want to deal with Iran, either by receiving waivers for oil imports or permissible trade in goods like food and medicine.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, is taking part in the Warsaw conference where he will speak behind closed doors on the contours of a US peace proposal to be presented after Israeli elections in April.

Iran is "a malign influence in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq" he said, adding that: "The three Hs, the Houthis, Hamas and Hizbollah [Hezbollah] - are real threats". He said the sanctions would "get tougher still" until Tehran complies with USA demands, and said Washington's efforts to isolate Iran was a "noble cause".

Speaking at the conference's opening session, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States wants a "new era of cooperation" to confront the challenges faced by countries in the Middle East.

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The Palestinian government is not attending and has called the conference an "American conspiracy". "Is it no coincidence that Iran is hit by terror on the very day that #WarsawCircus begins?" he wrote, "Especially when cohorts of same terrorists cheer it from Warsaw streets & support it with twitter bots?" It is refusing U.S. mediation after Trump in 2017 recognised bitterly contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Pompeo spoke Thursday before the opening session of a Middle East security conference in Warsaw.

"A peace process can not be turned into an attempt to obtain amnesty for war crimes or to make one of the parties surrender its basic rights under the United Nations charter".

One result of Netanyahu's campaign has been to put him into an unofficial coalition with Israel's longtime Arab adversaries that also dislike Iran.

Benjamin Netanyahu has employed harsh rhetoric against Iran for years, but he went a step further on Wednesday, saying that Arab countries participating in a Middle East conference in Warsaw "are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran". The agenda was broadened after allies suggested that the Trump administration would end up showcasing division rather than unity over Iran, European and USA diplomats said. It has vowed to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and has carried out scores of airstrikes on Iranian targets in the neighboring country.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a news briefing on Wednesday in Tehran that the two-day Warsaw meeting was "dead on arrival". Iran has denounced the gathering as an American anti-Iran "circus" aimed at "demonizing" it.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said earlier this week the agenda was "an Israeli-centric fake solution that normalizes Arab-Israeli relations at the expense of Palestinian rights". In the video, posted to social media by the Israeli government in a now deleted tweet, the prime minister can be heard using the word "war", not "combat".

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