Days after a top diplomat from the United Arab Emirates confirmed that the country was playing a role in bringing Delhi and Islamabad to the talks table, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi are visiting the UAE for what is being described as separate bilateral visits.
While Jaishankar will be in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Qureshi was in Dubai on Saturday on a three-day bilateral visit.
Sources in New Delhi and Islamabad, however, said there are no bilateral meetings scheduled so far between the two.
This is the second time they will be in the same country for a visit in less than three weeks – both were in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe for the Heart of Asia meeting on March 30.
Jaishankar has been invited to Abu Dhabi by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“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,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted Saturday.
Qureshi tweeted, “Good to be in the #UAE and to have met the Pakistan Business Council Dubai for a constructive session on #EconomicDiplomacy. The Pakistani community in UAE continue to play a positive role across all echelons of business & work with great contributions to the development” of Pakistan-UAE ties.
Jaishankar and Qureshi will both meet their UAE counterpart.
Earlier this week, the UAE’s envoy to the US had said that his country is mediating between India and Pakistan to help the beighbours reach a “healthy and functional” relationship. Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said: “We try to be helpful, where we have influence with two different countries, so India-Pakistan was the most recent one.”
He cited media reports which he said “highlighted the role the UAE played in bringing the Kashmir escalation down and sort of created a ceasefire, hopefully, ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level”.
In a conversation on Wednesday with former US National Security Advisor H R McMaster under the aegis of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, the UAE envoy, in response to question whether his country was trying to help the two countries have a better relationship, said: “Absolutely. 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…that’s our goal.”
Officials say India and Pakistan have been “carefully optimistic” of the steps taken in recent months. The February announcement to adhere to the ceasefire pact, the Indus Water Treaty talks in March after over two years, and demands within Pakistan to import cotton and sugar from India have made the two sides look at the next steps of engagement.
This official confirmation from the UAE came the day Reuters reported that top intelligence officers from India’s R&AW and Pakistan’s ISI held secret talks in Dubai in January in fresh effort to calm military tensions over Jammu and Kashmir.