Foreign ministers and senior officials from 60 nations gathered in the Polish capital Warsaw yesterday where the United States hopes to ratchet up pressure against Iran despite concerns among major European countries about heightened tensions with Tehran.
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 last year to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and re-impose sanctions.
EU policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who was a key player in the Iran nuclear deal, will also not attend the two-day conference due to scheduling issues, an EU official said, although US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Brussels on Friday to meet with her.
Pompeo, who will be joined by US Vice President Mike Pence in Warsaw, played down the absence of leading European ministers at the event during a brief stop in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Tuesday, before he headed to Warsaw.
"Some countries are having their foreign ministers come. Other countries are not. That's their choice," he told a news conference.
"We think we will make real progress. We think there'll be dozens of nations there seriously working towards a better, more stable Middle East, and I'm hoping by the time we leave on Thursday we'll have achieved that," he added.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said yesterday that the 60-nation conference was "dead on arrival".
Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice (ICC) yesterday ruled that a bid by Iran to recover $2 billion in frozen assets that the United States says must be paid to victims of attacks blamed on Tehran, can proceed.