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    Polish Foreign Minister says Middle East stability is key to global security

    The Middle East is looming large on Poland’s foreign minister’s agenda at present. Attending a meeting of EU and Arab League foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, in the run-up to an EU-Arab summit scheduled to take place in Egypt on February 24-25, Jacek Czaputowicz was quoted as saying: “Stability in the Middle East is key to global security”.

    The meeting itself was centred on cooperation between the EU and the Arab League, and the challenges faced by both groups. According to Poland’s foreign ministry, the meeting focussed on terrorist threats, extremism, humanitarian aid, the protection of civilians and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Czaputowicz said: “We know how many conflicts are raging there,” adding that they “influence the security of the EU”. 

     

    The foreign minister told journalists that Poland was involved in efforts to bring stability to countries such as Libya, Syria and Yemen. For Czaputowicz, counter-terrorism and migration are particular areas where the EU sees the potential for greater collaboration with the Arab League. The transformation of the Islamic State into a global organisation was another key threat that needed to be addressed.

     

    And from Brussels it was off to Washington to attend, on Wednesday, a conference of nations fighting the Islamic State militants. The US-led military coalition against Islamic State, formed in 2014, had been “instrumental in defeating” ISIS and in liberating territory once held by the militants in the Middle East, the Polish foreign ministry noted. The meeting was expected to review the achievements to date of the global coalition to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and to decide on future action. “Poland intends to remain actively involved in the Coalition, both in its military and stabilisation dimensions”, the foreign ministry said.

     

    The visit to Washington, was also expected to give Czaputowicz an opportunity to “emphasise Poland’s broader efforts to stabilise the Middle East,” including its co-hosting with the United States of a ministerial conference in Warsaw on February 13-14, the Polish foreign ministry said on its website.

     

    United States Vice-President Mike Pence will visit Warsaw to give the keynote address at what is known as the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, according to the White House. It said that Pence will also participate in bilateral discussions “on expanding and deepening U.S.-Poland relations, especially in the spheres of military and energy security, as well as expanding our economic and commercial ties.” The Unites States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will join Pence for the conference in Poland.

     

    This conference in Warsaw marks Poland’s increasingly higher profile in foreign affairs, as well as providing an opportunity for Poland to strengthen its close links with the United States. Details of the conference participants and agenda remain unclear, although it appears that the focus has been broadened from its original concentration on the particular threat posed by Iran. The announcement of the conference originally was greeted with particular anger by the Iranian foreign minister, who tweeted at the time: “Polish Govt can’t wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus.” However, for Poland this opportunity to stand side by side with the United States once more and to demonstrate its new confidence on the diplomatic world stage far outweighs any lingering concerns about entering the minefield that is peace in the Middle East.  

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