AFP: The White House on Monday dismissed Iran’s criticisms of a US-hosted Middle East peace meeting as “not surprising,” charging that Tehran backs extremists sidelined by the talks. WASHINGTON (AFP) The White House on Monday dismissed Iran’s criticisms of a US-hosted Middle East peace meeting as “not surprising,” charging that Tehran backs extremists sidelined by the talks.
“My reaction is that it is not surprising that a country like Iran is concerned that extremist elements have been targeted so that we can get to a Palestinian state and a peace between Israel and Palestine and then hopefully a comprehensive peace in the Middle East,” said spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Earlier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chided Saudi Arabia for taking part in a US-hosted Middle East peace meeting, after Arab participation in the event left Tehran isolated, media reported on Monday.
“It’s not surprising that a country like Iran, who benefits from chaos, would be concerned about a process that is bringing moderate forces together to establish a Palestinian state,” said Perino.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that “the guest list and attendees list is really interesting for who is not there” at the conference opening Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland.
He said the absentees are “Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, all of whom have come out and said they don’t like the idea of the conference and think it’s going to be a failure. It’s interesting they’re they only ones saying that.”
The three are absent because they “decided not to meet the conditions put out for an invitation,” he added.
Attending the conference are more than 40 countries, including 16 Arab states, and international organizations.
He said the list showed a divide between those forces interested “to one degree or another” in a more open, democratic and peaceful Middle East and those who embrace “violent extremism to further their agenda.”