Pence declares ‘new era’ as Netanyahu, Arab leaders meet at Middle East conference

The U.S. vice president said that gathering of Middle Eastern countries “breaking bread together” was the sign of “a hopeful sign of a brighter future.” 

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is hailing the dawning of “a new era” in the Middle East. He was delivering opening remarks Wednesday night at a conference taking place in Warsaw. The event is entitled: “Peace and Security in the Middle East.”

The U.S. and Poland are co-sponsoring the conference, which they say is aimed at promoting harmony in the Mideast, using the common concern of participating countries of the threat posed by Iran.

The Iranian issue has resulted in the forging of a new alliance in the Middle East, especially a more open relationship between Israel and Gulf states. The conference is bringing a number of these countries together in public. In all, the leaders of some 60 countries are said to be at the conference, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and high-profile dignitaries from Arab states.

“Tonight, I believe we are beginning a new era,” Pence said. “The prime minister of Israel, the leaders of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE all breaking bread together, and later in this conference sharing honest perspectives on the challenges facing the region.

“Poland and the United States welcome this outward symbol of this gathering, a symbol of cooperation and a hopeful sign of a brighter future that awaits nations in the Middle East,” the vice president told the gathering, adding that “as we begin these discussions let us recognize that we are stronger together than we could ever be apart,” he added.

Speaking Thursday morning before the opening session at the conference, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the world “can’t achieve peace and security in the Middle East without confronting Iran.”

Speaking with Netanyahu at his side, Pompeo said that “pushing back” against Iran is key in dealing with all the region’s other problems.

Earlier, the Israeli prime minister spoke of the historic nature of the conference in allowing him to hold an “open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries,” adding that “what we are doing is removing Iran from Syria. We are committed to doing this and will continue to do so,” said Netanyahu.

Tehran has spoken out against the convening of the conference, calling it an American anti-Iran “circus.” Russia has said it will not attend, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is also staying away.

The European Union and U.S. are at odds over the Iran nuclear deal. Last year, President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear accord, which had been reached in 2015 between Tehran and six world powers, including the U.S. under President Barack Obama.

The E.U. is acting to circumvent sanctions against Iran that have been imposed by the Trump administration.