Germany downgrades participation in Warsaw summit

                     By Ayhan Simsek </p>  <p>BERLIN (AA) - Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will not attend a controversial Middle East conference co-hosted by the U.S. and Poland in Warsaw, officials confirmed Monday. </p>  <p>“Foreign Minister Maas will not attend the Middle East conference in Warsaw,” a German diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity told Anadolu Agency. </p>  <p>He said Deputy Foreign Minister Niels Annen will attend the conference on Feb. 13 - 14 </p>  <p>The U.S. and Poland announced the international ministerial meeting would discuss peace and security in the Middle East, and critical issues such as terrorism, missile development and proliferation.</p>  <p>But recent remarks by senior U.S. and Polish officials have led to speculations about an attempt to build an anti-Iran coalition. </p>  <p>U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the focus of the conference would be on Iran, while Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz confirmed Iranian officials were not invited. </p>  <p>Iran has denounced the meeting, with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying it looked like a “desperate anti-Iranian circus”. </p>  <p>Nearly 50 countries, including Israel and several Arab states, reportedly confirmed their participation in the conference, which is officially known as the “Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East”. </p>  <p>U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the conference. </p>  <p>