Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the White House, is on his way to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week to hold talks in the tension-ridden region following the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist.
A senior administration official said Sunday that Kushner will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Neom and the Emir of Qatar in the coming days. Kushner will be joined by Avi Berkowitz, Brian Hook and Adam Boehler, CEO of the United States International Finance Association.
Kushner and his team have been helping negotiations between Israel and Bahrain, the UAE and Sudan since August. The official said they would like to reach more such agreements before Donald Trump handed over power to elected president Joe Biden on January 20th.
U.S. officials believe that if Saudi Arabia is lured with Israel, other Arab nations will follow. But Saudis do not appear to be on the brink of reaching such a milestone agreement, and in recent weeks officials have focused on other countries, and concerns about Iran’s regional influence are a unifying factor.
Kushner’s journey follows after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated on Friday by unknown assailants in Tehran. The Western and Israeli governments believe Fakhrizadeh was the architect of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Days before the assassination, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Saudi Arabia and met Prince Mohammed, according to an Israeli official, on the Israeli leader’s first publicly confirmed visit. According to Israeli media, they were joined by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The historic meeting highlighted how resistance to Tehran will result in a strategic realignment of the countries of the Middle East. Prince Mohammed and Netanyahu fear that Biden will adopt a similar policy on Iran as under Barack Obama’s presidency, which has strengthened Washington’s ties with its traditional regional allies. Biden said he would rejoin the international nuclear pact with Iran, which Trump abandoned in 2018 – and work with its allies to strengthen its terms – if Tehran first re-adheres to strict compliance.
For security reasons, the senior administrator, who told Anuters news agency anonymously, declined to provide further details about Kushner’s trip.
The official said Kushner met with Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah in the White House last week. Kuwait can be seen as critical in any effort to resolve the three-year gap between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE, which are made up of the GCC, severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017 and led a boycott over allegations that Qatar supported terrorism, which it denies.