Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Israel's Netanyahu meets Oman's foreign minister in Warsaw

Israel's Netanyahu meets Oman's foreign minister in Warsaw

"We operate every day, including yesterday, against Iran and its efforts to entrench itself in the region", Netanyahu said before boarding a flight to Poland for a conference focused on Tehran's activities in the Middle East.

The comments were made to reporters on the sidelines of the Warsaw Middle East ministerial following Netanyahu's meeting with the Sultanate of Oman's Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi.

The absence of foreign ministers from major European powers, Germany and France, highlights festering tensions with the European Union over US President Donald Trump's decision previous year to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions. Nor do Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, which also sent envoys to Warsaw and which share Israel's concerns about Iran's nuclear program and involvement in several regional flashpoints.

Iran has denounced the conference, which began Wednesday, as an American anti-Iran "circus" and Russian Federation said it would not attend.

Netanyahu's surprising October 26, 2018, visit to Oman marked the first time an Israeli leader publicly visited the Gulf state since 1996.

Israel has been increasingly open about carrying out air strikes in Syria with an election looming in April.

The controversy comes amid speculation about the goal of the meeting in Poland of top officials from 65 different countries-which also featured President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani calling for regime change in Iran while speaking at a rally outside the summit on behalf of, as Robert Mackey of The Intercept put it, "a cult-like group of Iranian exiles who pay him to represent them".

Before broadening the agenda, the USA initially told allies the meeting would focus on Iran, a bête noire for national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of whom have advocated for regime change in Tehran in the past. "This is a new era for the future, and for prosperity for all the nations". "But Netanyahu and Gulf countries are eager to focus on Iran".

The meeting, which took place on the sidelines of a Warsaw-hosted, USA -sponsored global conference on the Middle East, was lauded by each of the two sides.

Walla reported that sources in the security establishment stated that the issue would be raised by Netanyahu when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week. Pence and Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz were also scheduled to speak.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Trump administration is unlikely to make a big splash at the conference with an announcement of its impending Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

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