S. Jaishankar
Pic Credit : Outlook

External affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the weekend though both countries said on Saturday that no meeting was planned between the two leaders.

Hours after Qureshi began a three-day visit to the UAE, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi announced on Twitter that Jaishankar would visit Abu Dhabi on April 18 at the invitation of his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The announcement triggered speculation about a meeting between Jaishankar and Qureshi, especially in the wake of the acknowledgement by a senior Emirati diplomat of the UAE’s role in facilitating secret talks between India and Pakistan.

A person familiar with developments, however, said Jaishankar’s visit is “purely bilateral” and his engagements are “only with UAE dignitaries”. “He will be discussing some pressing economic and community welfare issues related to Covid-19.”

In Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said: “No such meeting is scheduled during foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s ongoing visit to the UAE.”