The United Arab Emirates has expressed surprise after US Vice President Joe Biden suggested the Gulf state had armed and financed jihadists in Syria, along with other regional powers.
Biden’s remarks were “amazing and ignore the role of the Emirates in the fight against extremism and terrorism,” the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Mohammad Gargash, said in a statement carried late Saturday by the official WAM news agency.
Gargash asked for Biden to clarify the comments, which he said had given “a false impression about the role of the UAE… at a time when it is actually supporting… efforts to overcome” the jihadists.
Later WAM reported that Biden had “apologised” for the remarks in a telephone call to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy head of the armed forces.
The UAE is one of a handful of Arab allies taking part in US-led air strikes against the jihadist Islamic State group in Syria. The others are Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
Biden has already apologised to Turkey over the comments suggesting that it was one of the countries in the region that had armed and financed the IS group in Syria.
“The vice president apologised for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria,” Biden’s office said on Saturday, using a common acronym for the IS group.
It came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted furiously at comments Biden made at Harvard University on Thursday in which he criticised allies in Turkey and the Arab world for supporting Sunni militant groups in Syria, including IS and the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front.