Netanyahu invokes 'war' on Iran at Warsaw summit, then quickly backtracks

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WARSAW, Poland-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, in what could be a possible gaffe, that his meetings with Arab leaders in Poland are in pursuit of "war with Iran". It referred to a meeting between Netanyahu and Oman's foreign affairs minister Yusuf bin Alawi.

Leading European countries Germany and France opted not to send their foreign ministers over concerns the meeting could highlight big-power tensions over Washington's decision a year ago to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions against Tehran.

"The global community must consistently call out parties seeking to sow instability, and this includes by being vigilant about the very real machinations towards war that are being undertaken", the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) said in a statement.

Israel has been increasingly open about carrying out air strikes in Syria with an election looming in April. And how they always get made when we say this?

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"We're trying to expand the number of nations who are engaged and have a stake in the future of a peaceful and prosperous Middle East", Brian Hook, the state department's special representative for Iran, told Reuters news agency.

The conference opening on Wednesday evening was originally touted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as focusing on Iran's regional actions, but organizers have since dialed down the emphasis on Tehran.

"Iran isn't behaving like a normal country".

Noting that "a war with Iran is fundamentally at odds with the security interests of the United States, Israel, the people of Iran, and the entire Middle East", the group declared: "Whether the prime minister's words were intentionally muddled or not, his provocative message needs no interpretation".

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Netanyahu has said the conference will not focus on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, since Pompeo and US Vice President Mike Pence - who will also attend the summit - do not deal with the administration's much-anticipated peace proposal.

The US and Poland host a Middle East conference Thursday that's meant to address a broad range of security challenges, but looks set to be dominated by Iran, which has become a source of tension between the US and allies and is reportedly causing friction within the administration as well.

"The European Union alone does not, in my opinion, carry sufficient political weight to try to really influence the situation in the Middle East", he told reporters.

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