Donald Trump's senior aide Jared Kushner headed to Saudi Arabia, Qatar

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
Washington, United States Published: Nov 30, 2020, 10.40 PM(IST)

File photo of Jared Kushner. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Kushner's visit to the Middle Eastern countries would focus on resolving a dispute between Qatar and a Saudi-led alliance

US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his team are headed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week in a bid for further diplomatic deals in the region before leaving the White House, according to media reports Sunday.

Kushner's visit to the Middle Eastern countries would focus on resolving a dispute between Qatar and a Saudi-led alliance, the Wall Street Journal reported, but a number of issues could be on the agenda.

His trip comes days after the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's chief nuclear scientist blamed Israel, heightening tensions in the region. Western and Israeli governments believe Fakhrizadeh was the architect of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.

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The clock is also ticking on Trump's time in office, with President-elect Joe Biden due to be sworn in on January 20.

Kushner has sought various deals in the region and has developed a relationship with Saudi Arabia's divisive de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A senior administration official said on Sunday that Kushner is to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Neom, and the emir of Qatar in that country in the coming days. 

Kushner will be joined by Middle East envoys Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook and Adam Boehler, chief executive of the US International Development Finance Corporation.

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Kushner and his team helped negotiate normalization deals between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan since August. The official said they would like to advance more such agreements before President Donald Trump hands power to President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.

US officials believe enticing Saudi Arabia into a deal with Israel would prompt other Arab nations to follow suit. But the Saudis do not appear to be on the brink of reaching such a landmark deal and officials in recent weeks have been focusing on other countries, with concern about Iran's regional influence a uniting factor.

Days before the killing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met with bin Salman, an Israeli official said, in what was the first publicly confirmed visit by an Israeli leader. Israeli media said they were joined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The historic meeting underlined how opposition to Tehran is bringing about a strategic realignment of countries in the Middle East. Bin Salman and Netanyahu fear Biden will adopt policies on Iran similar to those adopted during Barack Obama's US presidency which strained Washington's ties with its traditional regional allies.

Also read| Biden wants to rejoin Iran nuclear deal, but it won’t be easy

Biden has said he will rejoin the international nuclear pact with Iran that Trump quit in 2018 - and work with allies to strengthen its terms - if Tehran first resumes strict compliance.

Kuwait is seen as critical in any effort to resolve a three-year rift between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have imposed an air, naval and land embargo on Qatar since June 2017 over their insistence Doha is too close to Iran and radical Islamist groups. Qatar denies the charges.

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