UAE says 'astonished' by Biden's comments on terror financing

Foreign Affairs minister calls on US vice-president to clarify comments 'which are far from the truth'
UAE says 'astonished' by Biden's comments on terror financing
Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
By Staff writer
Sun 05 Oct 2014 11:45 AM

The UAE has said it is "astonished" by comments made by US Vice President Joe Biden which suggested the Gulf state had armed and financed jihadists in Syria, along with other regional powers.

Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said in comments published by news agency WAM that he was surprised by Biden's remarks "which are far from the truth, especially with relation to the UAE's role in confronting extremism and terrorism and its clear and advanced position in recognising the dangers, including the danger of financing terrorism and terrorist groups".

Biden's comments appear to have originated during an appearance last week at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University when he spoke about Turkey, the UAE, other Middle Eastern allies, and the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Biden told attendees that the militant Islamist group had been inadvertently strengthened by actions its allies, including the UAE, took to help opposition groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world," Biden was quoted as saying by CNN.

"We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them."

He said Biden's comments painted a negative and inaccurate impression about the UAE and its track record in fighting terrorism.

Gargash has asked 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.

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.

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