STATE DEPARTMENT - With an eye on Iran, the United States and Poland will jointly host a ministerial meeting to promote peace and security in the Middle East. The international gathering will be held in Warsaw on Feb. 13-14.
“The ministerial will address a range of critical issues including terrorism and extremism, missile development and proliferation, maritime trade and security, and threats posed by proxy groups across the region,” a State Department statement said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News the gathering would “focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security,” including “an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence.”
The top U.S. diplomat arrived late Friday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, after a short visit to Manama, Bahrain.
Earlier, Pompeo met with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa.
The U.S. has praised Bahrain as “a staunch supporter” to push back Iran’s malign efforts, including efforts to counter Iranian sanctions evasion and to combat illicit maritime activity.
Pompeo’s visit to Bahrain was his first stop in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
The GCC is “is essential to countering the single greatest threat to regional stability: the Iranian regime,” the State Department said Friday, adding the chief American diplomat’s visit to GCC countries is aimed at building support for the pressure campaign against Iran.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday launched a deadly drone attack against Yemeni government officers at a military parade at al-Anad Air Base in the Lahij region.
The U.S. strongly condemned the drone attack, saying it violated a cease-fire agreement and progress made last month at U.N.-led talks in Sweden.
"We urge all sides to honor the commitments they made in Sweden to their fellow Yemenis by refraining from violence and provocative acts," said the State Department in a statement Friday.
Pompeo will also underscore to GCC partners the key roles they play in resolving the humanitarian crisis instigated by the Houthi rebels, according to the State Department.
From Bahrain, Pompeo traveled to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, late Friday. Other stops on his trip include Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait.
On Friday, the U.S.-led coalition in Syria began to remove troops from Syria. A day earlier in Cairo, Pompeo said bringing American troops home from Syria “isn’t a change of mission” and Washington remained “committed to the complete dismantling” of Islamic State militants.
At the same time, added Pompeo, the U.S. is “looking to our partners to do more.”
“As the fighting continues, we will continue to assist our partners in efforts to guard borders, prosecute terrorists, screen travelers, assist refugees and more. But 'assist' is the key phrase. We ask every peace-loving nation of the Middle East to shoulder new responsibilities for defeating Islamist extremism wherever we find it,” said Pompeo in remarks Thursday at American University in Cairo.