UAE says Biden apologises for any implication it backed militants

US Vice President telephones Abu Dhabi crown prince to say sorry over comments made in speech
UAE says Biden apologises for any implication it backed militants
US Vice President Joe Biden. (AFP/Getty Images)
By Reuters
Mon 06 Oct 2014 01:30 AM

The UAE said on Sunday that US Vice President Joe Biden had apologised to the Abu Dhabi crown prince for "any implications" made in a speech indicating that the UAE had supported Islamist militants in Syria.

Biden angered US allies when he suggested in a speech to Harvard University students on Thursday that Turkey,Qatar and the UAE had extended "billions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons" to Sunni fighters trying to oust the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash demanded an official explanation for Biden's remarks, which he said had created "a negative and untrue impression about the role of the UAE", according to state news agency WAM.

WAM said on Sunday that Biden had telephoned Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nehayan, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces, over the comments.

"In the phone call, Biden offered his apology to the UAE for any implications in his recent statements that may have been understood to mean that the UAE had supported the growth of some of the terrorist organisations in the region," WAM said.

Biden's office, in a statement regarding the telephone call to Sheikh Mohammed, said the vice president, "clarified that his recent remarks regarding the early stages of the conflict in Syria were not meant to imply that the UAE had facilitated or supported ISIL, Al Qaeda or other extremist groups in Syria".

It added, "The Vice President noted the UAE's strong steps in countering extremist messaging and financing and expressed gratitude for their participation in ongoing military operations against ISIL."

The UAE is one of several Arab countries that have joined a US-led coalition against Islamist militants, and its air force participated in strikes on targets belonging to ISIL and the al Qaeda wing in Syria, the al-Nusra Front.

The White House on Saturday said that Biden had spoken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to clarify his comments at Harvard and apologise 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".

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