Kushner meets Saudi’s MBS for first time since Khashoggi murder

The meeting focused on “increasing cooperation” between Washington and Riyadh as well as the Middle East peace process.

MBS Jared Kushner
The two men have developed a close working relationship since Trump assumed the presidency in early 2017. [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters file]

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) on Tuesday for the first time since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The talks in the Saudi capital Riyadh, part of Kushner’s tour of the Middle East, focused on ways of “increasing cooperation” between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a White House statement said.

“Building on previous conversations, they discussed increasing cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and the Trump administration’s efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement said.


“Additionally, they discussed ways to improve the condition of the entire region through economic investment,” it said.

This was the first face-to-face meeting between Kushner, who is also US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and MBS since the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

A firm critic of Saudi’s reform programme under the stewardship of MBS, Khashoggi was looking to obtain paperwork certifying he was single so that he could marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.

Riyadh initially insisted that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive before changing its account and admitting that the journalist was killed in an operation it said was undertaken by “rogue elements”.

MBS behind Khashoggi murder 

The US Congress blasted the White House for its reluctance to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist.

In December the US Senate passed a resolution that directly pinned the blame for the murder on MBS and a second resolution that to end US military assistance for the devastating Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Neither Khashoggi nor the war in Yemen were mentioned in the White House statement on Kushner’s meeting in Saudi Arabia.

Also present at the meeting were Jason Greenblatt, special representative for international negotiations, and US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook.

Kushner met on Wednesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks focused on his Middle East peace plan. Also present at the meeting with Kushner was Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s finance minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law. 

It lasted two hours, according to state news agency Anadolu. No further details were available.

Erdogan is a strident critic of Israel and the Trump administration’s policies in the region. He has frequently said Israel’s actions against Palestinians are similar to methods used by the Nazis.

New peace plan 

Kushner arrived in Ankara after stops in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to discuss his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.    

In a recent interview with Sky News Arabia, Kushner said details of his proposed initiative would be revealed after Israel’s elections April 9.

Palestinians hope occupied East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, will be the capital of their future state. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital.

Trump has said he wants to conclude an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement by the end of his first term and Kushner was tasked with preparing it.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said the Trump administration disqualified itself as a peace negotiator after upending decades of US policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there.

WATCH: Will Saudi Arabia be held to account for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder? (25:36)

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies