U.S. insists Mideast summit in Warsaw is not about bashing Iran, but Iran begs to differ

By Christina Ruffini

/ CBS News

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz (L) shakes hands with the U..S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) during the welcome ceremony at the Lazienki Park in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 12, 2019. Getty

Warsaw, Poland — The motorcades have descended on Warsaw, as delegates begin to arrive ahead of Thursday's Middle East Summit.

"We are going to gather up to talk about the future of Middle East stability and prosperity," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Tuesday. "This is a global coalition that is built to deliver on the important mission of reducing the risk that has emanated from the Middle East for far too long."

The summit, co-hosted by the U.S. and Poland, is being billed as a geo-political brainstorming session, where participants from approximately 60 countries will discuss a range of issues including the fight against ISIS and the conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

But what the U.S. really wants to talk about is Iran.

Netanyahu says "the focus is Iran"

The Warsaw meeting was originally conceived as an opportunity for the U.S. to ratchet up international pressure on Tehran, which the Trump administration views as the region's chief antagonist. The agenda was broadened, however, after European allies pushed back.

Many of those countries, including host Poland, still support the Iran nuclear deal and they're working hard to salvage the arrangement in the wake of President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out.

"That doesn't hinder us in looking for a common approach, a way to cooperate in the transatlantic dimension," Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "We will be focused on the most problematic horizontal issues rather than individual states."

That messaging, however, seems to have gotten muddled.

Before leaving for Warsaw, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that the point of the summit was obvious.

"The focus is Iran," he said. "This brings together Israel, the U.S., and countries in and beyond the region. There will be interesting meetings there."

The view from Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the meeting "dead in the water" on Wednesday, and criticized the Polish government for hosting the "anti-Iran show."

At a news conference in Tehran, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer asked Zarif if there was a way to deescalate the tensions between the U.S. and Iran by establishing a clear line of communication.

Iranians feel the impact of U.S. sanctions on anniversary of Islamic Revolution

Zarif said the military escalation in the Middle East was the fault of the U.S., for "pouring weapons into the region." He said there was no offer of direct communications "on the table" and called on Washington to treat Tehran with "mutual respect."

The Iranian Mission to the United Nations, meanwhile, issued a statement accusing the U.S. of trying to, "highjack the forum to demonize Iran's role in the region, and pursue their malicious intentions. This 'Ministerial' is yet another attempt by the U.S. administration to undermine and bypass the internationally recognized arrangements for maintenance of peace and security embodied in the United Nations and its Security Council."

The Mission accused the Trump administration of implementing foreign policy objectives that were "unconstructive, biased, confused and self-contradictory," and pointed to Mr. Trump's own words about the Syria conflict as evidence.

"The U.S. president has made it clear on numerous occasions that the only guiding principle in the U.S. foreign policy is money, and that they do not care for anything else," the statement said, quoting Mr. Trump's own description of Syria when he announced the U.S. withdrawal from the country: "Syria was lost long ago. It was lost long ago. We're not talking about vast wealth. We're talking about sand and death. I'm getting out; we're getting out of Syria. Look, we don't want Syria."

"Real progress," but no clear goals

Regardless of the actual focus of the summit, or how the Iranians feel about it, the show will go on.

Vice President Mike Pence was expected address the summit on a broad range of topics related to Mideast security.

Pompeo will talk about Syria, following President Trump's contentious decision to withdraw American forces from the country, and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner will give an update on the Middle East peace process.

There are no are no set goals or benchmarks for the summit. Guidance from the State Department has been short on details.

Several nations, including France and Germany, are only sending lower-level officials. The Palestinians and Turks aren't coming at all. Russia and China are also sitting this one out.

Still, the State Department remains optimistic.

"We think we will make real progress," Pompeo said Tuesday. "There will 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."

First published on February 13, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

US Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo In Poland

Michelle Obama shares relatable texts from her mom

A mom always finds out where their kid is – even if her kid is Michelle Obama and she's at the Grammys

updated 4M ago

Gun policy public opinion a year after Parkland shooting

CBS News polling review and analysis finds that most Americans are frustrated by national debate over gun policy

updated 10M ago

Ford recalls 1.5M pickups that can downshift abruptly

A glitch from the transmission speed sensor caused five accidents thus far, including one with a whiplash injury

updated 31M ago

Shutdown watch: Trump poised to sign border deal — live updates

Trump is "very likely" to sign the agreement reached by congressional negotiators, according to an administration official

updated 34M ago

"El Chapo" attorney claims unfair trial included "out of his mind" witness

Defense attorney Jeff Lichtman, who also defended American mobster John "Junior" Gotti, said he was "restricted" from going into "very basic areas" of the case

1H ago

U.S. insists Mideast summit not just Iran-bashing – Iran begs to differ

Official theme of the gathering in Poland was broadened under pressure from EU allies, but Israel is clear: "The focus is Iran"

updated 4M ago

Gun policy public opinion a year after Parkland shooting

CBS News polling review and analysis finds that most Americans are frustrated by national debate over gun policy

updated 10M ago

Shutdown watch: Trump poised to sign border deal — live updates

Trump is "very likely" to sign the agreement reached by congressional negotiators, according to an administration official

updated 34M ago

U.S.-China trade talks enter crucial phase before Trump's tariff call

At stake as senior negotiators meet in Beijing is whether he'll pull the trigger on much higher tariffs on Mar. 2

updated 42M ago

Ted Cruz wants "El Chapo" to fund Trump's border wall

Cruz urged his Senate colleagues to pass his "El Chapo Act" to help fund the border wall and "secure the border"

3H ago

U.S. insists Mideast summit not just Iran-bashing – Iran begs to differ

Official theme of the gathering in Poland was broadened under pressure from EU allies, but Israel is clear: "The focus is Iran"

updated 4M ago

"Unprecedented" floods kills 300,000 cows in Australia

One in 40 of Australia's cattle thought to have drowned in flooding unleashed by downpour after 5 years of drought

updated 51M ago

Kim Jong Un is upgrading North Korea's pop culture

But the isolated nation's cultural renaissance remains firmly within parameters set by Kim, and it's unclear what's driving it

2H ago

Philippines arrests prominent journalist who warned of threat to democracy

Maria Ressa, editor of news website Rappler, is accused of cyber libel based on a law enacted months after the allegedly offending article

updated 33M ago

Venezuelan opposition sets date for showdown with Maduro's forces

"Allow in the humanitarian aid. That's an order," U.S.-backed Juan Guaidó tells military, announcing date for aid caravans to challenge blocked border

5H ago

George Clooney defends Meghan Markle after treatment by press

"I believe she cried more to do with the press intrusion than anything else in her life," Prince William has said about their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales

1H ago

21 Savage granted release on bond from ICE custody, lawyers say

The Atlanta-based rapper was arrested by ICE on Feb. 3

16H ago

Police use pepper balls to disperse Travis Scott fans

"Astroworld" was not the fantasyland fans hoped it would be

Feb 12

The 2019 Grammy Awards: Winners and highlights

Female performers dominated the 61st Annual Grammy Awards

Feb 11

Alicia Keys shares story about John Mayer splitting his Grammy award with her 15 years ago

Mayer surprised Keys with the same award he split with her in 2004 — after he felt she deserved the trophy, too

Feb 11

T-Mobile, Sprint execs defend $26.5 billion deal to lawmakers

The telecom executives are likely to face a skeptical audience and concerns about lack of competition

updated 9M ago

Driver says Tesla car gets "confused," crashes on highway

"The driver was shaken. He was panicked by the accident," police said

updated 13M ago

Senator calls for Google, Apple to drop Saudi app that monitors women

Oregon's Ron Wyden says U.S. tech companies shouldn't facilitate "abhorrent surveillance and control of women"

19H ago

Russian region declares emergency over polar bear "invasion"

It is illegal to hunt the species, already endangered thanks to climate change shrinking their habitat, but a cull has not been ruled out

Feb 11

Crew hunts for fabled U.S. carrier in a graveyard for WWII ships

The explorers who located the wreck of the USS Indianapolis are searching for an aircraft carrier sunk by the Japanese 77 years ago

Feb 11

Depression during and after pregnancy can be prevented, panel says

Up to 1 in 7 women experience what's called perinatal depression, and a task force has issued new recommendations to help prevent it

updated 28M ago

Drugmaker behind ibuprofen recall has history of FDA violations

Federal watchdog previously found significant violations of manufacturing rules by Tris Pharma

updated 41M ago

How to confront rising anxiety among young girls

Psychologist Lisa Damour offers practical advise on how adults can help address the "unique pressures" girls face

5H ago

Teen defies mom, gets vaccinated after turning to strangers online

"I question her judgment, but not her care," says Ethan Lindenberger of his mother

Feb 12

FDA announces crackdown on illegal dietary supplements

In one case, the FDA found a company claimed its product reduced "symptoms of cognitive decline"

Feb 11

Ford recalls 1.5M pickups that can downshift abruptly

A glitch from the transmission speed sensor caused five accidents thus far, including one with a whiplash injury

updated 31M ago

Drugmaker behind ibuprofen recall has history of FDA violations

Federal watchdog previously found significant violations of manufacturing rules by Tris Pharma

updated 41M ago

T-Mobile, Sprint execs defend $26.5 billion deal to lawmakers

The telecom executives are likely to face a skeptical audience and concerns about lack of competition

updated 9M ago

U.S.-China trade talks enter crucial phase before Trump's tariff call

At stake as senior negotiators meet in Beijing is whether he'll pull the trigger on much higher tariffs on Mar. 2

updated 42M ago

Katy Perry accused of evoking blackface imagery in shoe designs

Reactions to the shoes, released last summer, are a measure of the charge around imagery perceived as racist today

14H ago

2 kids found in dog cages, 2 more covered in waste in barn

All appeared malnourished; the local sheriff near Rhome, Texas, outside Dallas, called it the worst case of child abuse he's ever seen

5H ago

NYPD officer killed by apparent friendly fire

Police recovered an imitation firearm at the scene

updated 16M ago

4 former firefighters charged for "racist, lewd" prank

Lt. Robert Webster discovered a hangman's noose during his shift; there were also sexual images drawn on his family photos

8H ago

The craziest details from the "El Chapo" trial

Shooting bazookas, burying a rival alive, a naked escape — just to name a few of the twisted revelations

16H ago

Porch pirate steals boy's cancer meds

The teen has been battling the disease since he was six months old, and in a matter of minutes, his cancer fight got harder

17H ago