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April 16, 2021

UAE confirms mediating between Pakistan, India

Top Story

April 16, 2021

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates’ envoy to Washington confirmed the Gulf state is mediating between India and Pakistan to help the nuclear-armed rivals reach a “healthy and functional” relationship, foreign media reported on Thursday.

Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, people with knowledge of the matter had told Reuters.

Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said in a virtual discussion with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on Wednesday that the UAE played a role “in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level”. “They might not sort of become best friends but at least we want to get it to a level where it’s functional, where it’s operational, where they are speaking to each other,” he said.

In Pakistan, a security official told The Associated Press the UAE did play a role in brokering the cease-fire. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorised to brief journalists, declined to say where these meetings took place.

An Indian security official told the AP the two countries had decided to keep the talks “secret and low key.” But he described the UAE’s role as providing “nothing but the venue” in Dubai. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorised to talk to reporters.

Ties between India and Pakistan have been frozen since Pulwama attack and Balakot airstrike.

Otaiba also said that Pakistan should play a helpful role in Afghanistan, where the United States plans to start withdrawing US troops on May 1 to end America’s longest war.

The Emirati official voiced concern that an abrupt US withdrawal would constitute “reverse progress” by serving the interests of “the more illiberal forces” in Afghanistan.

“The question is if the three parties (the US, Taliban and Afghan government) can reach an agreement that they can all live with,” Otaiba said.

“It’s hard for us to see a way to stabilise Afghanistan without Pakistan playing a helpful role,” he added.

Turkey is due to host a peace summit for Afghanistan from April 24 to May 4 meant to jump-start efforts to end the war and sketch out a possible political settlement.