Senior Adviser to the White House Jared Kushner He is heading to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week for talks in a region tense after the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist.
Kushner is scheduled to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Emir of Qatar in the Saudi city of Nyeom, a senior executive said on Sunday. Kushner will be joined by Middle Eastern ambassadors Avi Bergowitz and Brian Hooke and Adam Bohler, chief executive of the US International Development Fund.
Kushner and his team have been helping to negotiate normalization agreements between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan since August. The official said he would like to pursue more such deals before Donald Trump gives power to Joe Biden, who was elected president on January 20.
U.S. officials believe that attracting Saudi Arabia to the deal with Israel will prompt other Arab countries to follow suit. But the Saudis do not appear to be on the verge of reaching such a major deal and in recent weeks officials have been focusing on other countries, with Iran’s regional influence being a unifying factor.
Fischer Kushner, who was killed by unidentified assailants on Friday in Mohsen Fakhrzeh in Tehran, is on his way. Western and Israeli governments believe Fakhrizadeh is the mastermind behind the secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.
A few days before the assassination, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia and met with Prince Mohammed, an Israeli official who has publicly confirmed the visit. Israeli media reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had joined them.
The historic meeting underscores how the opposition to Tehran is bringing about a strategic restructuring of countries in the Middle East. Prince Mohammed and Netanyahu fear that Biden will accept policies on Iran similar to those adopted during Barack Obama’s presidency, which has eroded Washington’s relations with its traditional regional allies. Biden has said he will rejoin the international nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump withdrew in 2018, and work with allies to strengthen its terms – if Tehran resumes a tough deal first.
The senior executive, speaking to Reuters anonymously, declined to give further details about Kushner’s trip for security reasons.
The official said Kushner met with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah at the White House last week. Kuwait is considered important in any attempt to resolve the three-year rift between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which include the GCC, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017 and imposed a boycott on allegations that Qatar supported terrorism, denying one allegation.