Saturday, May 15, 2021

Indian, Pakistani Foreign Ministers Not Meeting In The UAE Despite Similar Itineraries

There are no scheduled meetings between Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers during their visits to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), officials from both countries confirmed on Saturday.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi arrived in Abu Dhabi for a three-day visit on Saturday and his Indian counterpart, S. Jaishankar, will visit the Gulf state on Sunday.

The visits coincide with recent UAE-brokered backdoor diplomacy that brought a thaw in otherwise mounting tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

“No such meeting is scheduled during Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s ongoing visit to the UAE,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said in a statement.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet: “At the invitation of his counterpart, EAM @DrSJaishankar will be visiting Abu Dhabi on 18th April 2021. His discussions will focus on economic cooperation and community welfare.”

Senior Pakistani and Indian intelligence officials held a series of secret meetings in Dubai in January in an attempt to stem escalating tensions along the Line of Control (LoC), a de facto border that divides the disputed Kashmir valley between the two neighbors.

Last month, the two militaries agreed to honor a 2003 cease-fire along the LoC, followed by an exchange of letters between the two premiers, which was widely viewed as an outcome of backdoor diplomacy.

UAE’s Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba confirmed on Wednesday that the Gulf state is mediating between New Delhi and Islamabad to help reach a “healthy and functional” relationship.

Addressing a virtual session with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Otaiba said his country had a role behind the cease-fire on the Kashmir border, which hopefully would get relations back to a “healthy level.”​​​​​​​

Relations between India and Pakistan plummeted to a new low after August 2019, when India scrapped the longstanding special status of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting Islamabad to downgrade diplomatic ties with New Delhi.

Islamabad said the normalization of ties is linked to a review of the Aug. 5 decision and ultimate resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

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