DUBAI – The United Arab Emirates played a role in getting longtime Asian rivals India and Pakistan to agree to a cease-fire amid tensions over the disputed region of Kashmir, the Emirati ambassador to Washington said.
The comments by Yousef al-Otaiba come as the Emirates tries to recalibrate its diplomacy to Washington following U.S. President Joe Biden taking office.
After enjoying a close relationship to President Donald Trump, the autocratically ruled UAE has sought to underline its importance in regional affairs as Biden has struck a harder tone with Saudi Arabia and suggested he wants to rejoin Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.
Speaking in a video released Wednesday by Stanford University's Hoover Institution, al-Otaiba acknowledged an Emirati role “in bringing the Kashmir escalation down” between the two nuclear-armed nations.
“We try to be helpful where we have influence with two different countries,” al-Otaiba told H.R. McMaster, a former national security adviser to Trump. “India and Pakistan was the most recent one.”
In February, India and Pakistan agreed to adhere to a 2003 accord over the heavily militarized Himalayan region that had been largely ignored since its signing. Troops regularly exchanged artillery, rocket and small-arms fire across the so-called Line of Control, killing hundreds including civilians.
Kashmir has been divided but claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan since almost immediately after the two countries’ creation in 1947. They have fought three wars against each other, two directly dealing with the disputed region. India in 2019 stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and took direct control over it, sparking unrest.
The sudden cease-fire in February came as a surprise, especially given Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist agenda and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's own comments about India.