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Middle East conference: Pence urges EU to quit Iran nuclear deal | USA News

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Vice President Mike Pence has accused Washington’s European allies of trying to break US sanctions against Tehran and called on them to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

At a Middle East conference organised by the United States in Poland, Pence slammed the European Union for remaining party to the agreement after the Trump administration withdrew from it last year and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran.

“Sadly, some of our leading European partners have not been nearly as cooperative. In fact, they have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions,” Pence said.

Last month, Germany, France and Britain launched a financial tool to help European firms with legitimate business interests in Iran avoid US sanctions.

Pence said the scheme set up by the EU to facilitate trade with Iran was “an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime”.

“It is an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and create still more distance between Europe and the United States,” he said.

France and Germany declined to send their top diplomats to the foreign minister-level meeting, while Iran has denounced the gathering as an American anti-Iran “circus” aimed at “demonising” it.

‘New era of cooperation’

Earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a “new era of cooperation” in resolving Middle East challenges and said no country could afford to remain on the sidelines.

“The United States seeks a new era of cooperation between all of our countries on how to confront these issues,” Pompeo told foreign ministers and other officials from more than 60 countries in Warsaw on Thursday.

He refrained from directly criticising Iran, instead including it in a list of regional challenges ranging from Syria and Yemen to Palestinian-Israeli peace.

“None of the region’s challenges will solve themselves. We must work together for security,” he said. “No country can afford to remain on the sidelines.”

Reporting from Warsaw, Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra said that while many nations agreed that ending the wars in Syria and Yemen, as well as the Israel-Palestine peace plan, were important, a number of questions remained over the efficacy of the conference, as Russia, China, the Palestinians and Houthis, were not in attendance.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, is taking part in the Warsaw conference where he will speak behind closed doors on the contours of a US peace proposal to be presented after Israeli elections in April.

‘Normalises occupation’

The Palestinian government is not attending and has called the conference an “American conspiracy”. It is refusing US mediation after Trump in 2017 recognised bitterly contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On Thursday, a Palestinian official said that the conference lacked credibility as it aimed to “normalise” the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

“By fully siding with the Israeli government, (the Americans) have tried to normalise the Israeli occupation and the systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination,” Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, wrote in a column published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“The Warsaw conference is part of this context,” he wrote.

“A peace process cannot be turned into an attempt to obtain amnesty for war crimes or to make one of the parties surrender its basic rights under the UN charter.”

The conference is widely viewed as a US-led effort to isolate Tehran, a foreign policy priority of the Trump administration. 

Iran was not invited to the meeting, despite being a “key player” in the region, Ahelbarra explained.

“We’re back to square one where it is all about Iran,” he added.

The European allies of Washington have voiced concern that the conference would turn into an Iran-bashing session and increase tensions with Tehran. The European Union’s top diplomats stayed away from it.

Last year, the US unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, but European countries have continued to support the multilateral agreement as the best way to deal with Iran’s nuclear programme.

Earlier on Thursday, in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo said peace and stability in the Middle East could not be achieved without confronting Iran.

Iran says its ballistic missile programme is defensive and a deterrent only, and that it has deployed forces to Syria and Iraq only after the invitation of governments of those countries.

‘Warsaw circus’

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a news briefing on Wednesday in Tehran that the two-day Warsaw meeting was “dead on arrival”.

The conference came as 20 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard were killed in a suicide attack in the southeast of the country on Wednesday.

Zarif described the meeting as the “Warsaw Circus”, and said it was “no coincidence that Iran is hit by terror on the very day” the talks began in the Polish capital.

The Warsaw meeting brought together Israel and some Gulf Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Israel’s prime minister, who met the Omani foreign minister on the sidelines on Wednesday, called the conference a “historical turning point” in tackling the threat from Iran.

“I think this marks a change, an important understanding of what threatens our future, what we have to do to secure it and the possibilities of cooperation that extend beyond security to every realm of life for the peoples of the Middle East,” said Netanyahu, who faces an election on April 9.

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Bride calls off wedding after discovering fiancé made ‘sexist’ demand to her dad

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A bride made the devastating decision to cancel her wedding to her partner of seven years after her dad revealed the ‘sexist’ demand his family had made behind her back.

The dad says his daughter got engaged recently and he had always been fond of her fiancé, who he thought of as “kind, humble and always respectful to our family”.

However, he says when he has met the man’s family for dinner on a couple of occasions, they made remarks towards his daughter which made him feel uncomfortable, including: ‘I don’t know why you’re working, isn’t that the husband’s job? It’s the mother’s job to be taking care of the children’.

As his daughter pair pressed ahead with their plans for the ceremony, the dad says her fiancé arranged a meeting with them both and his parents, adding that his daughter couldn’t be involved.

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Gordon Ramsay’s £20 ‘preselected’ cheese board labelled ‘insulting’ by furious customer

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Gordon Ramsay has sparked outrage once again as a customer complained that a cheese board he received at one of the celebrity chef’s restaurants was “insulting” and “preselected”.

Previously, Gordon was slammed for the size of his steak and chips, was told to “get a grip” for the price of his fry-up and criticised for the roast which was compared to a ‘child’s portion’.

But the latest customer to be disappointed by the TV chef’s food was Simon, who visited the three Michelin star restaurant with friends, Daily Star reports.

Simon was ‘insulted’ after receiving a “preselected” cheese board, and took to TripAdvisor to leave a two-star review.

Their review said: “I visited GR hospital road on a Friday night with friends for a special treat.

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Mum shares tip to fit three pizzas on one oven shelf to make family cooking easy

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Cooking pizzas for the whole family should be quick and easy dinner option – but it usually also throws up a headache.

With only one small oven to get the job done, we have to decide between either cooking one at a time and eating separately, or attempting to rotate them every few minutes to cook them evenly.

But one mum has revealed a painfully easy solution to get three frozen pizzas on one shelf, giving her room to put chips on a tray below – and you’ll wonder why your brain has never come up with the solution itself.

Posting on the Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas Facebook group, the mum demonstrated how she cuts the frozen pizzas in half before arranging them all on a single oven rack, making use of all available space.

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