In midst of North Korea summit and Cohen testimony, WH belatedly announced Jared Kushner met with Saudi Arabia's crown prince Tuesday in first face-to-face encounter since the brutal murder and disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The readout does not mention Khashoggi.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) February 28, 2019
Hey, better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? Move fast and break stuff! Politico:
… According to the White House, Kushner met with the crown prince and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to build on previous conversations about increasing cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Trump administration’s hopes to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The State Department referred to the White House an inquiry about whether Khashoggi was discussed at the meeting. Multiple White House officials did not respond.
The encounter, part of Kushner’s seven-day tour through the Middle East, comes weeks after the Trump administration reserved the right to decline lawmakers’ demands that the White House issue a report to Congress determining who is responsible for the murder of Khashoggi. The move caused an uproar among legislators on both sides of the aisle, some of whom claimed the president’s actions amounted to a cover-up on behalf of the Saudi government and a violation of the law…
Kushner had cultivated a relationship with the crown prince, who, like the president’s son-in-law, is in his 30s. These ties to bin Salman have come under scrutiny in the wake of Khashoggi’s killing amid tensions over whether the crown prince, who serves as the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, ordered the death of the journalist.
Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook accompanied Kushner to the meeting, according to the White House. The two nations’ delegations also discussed “ways to improve the condition of the entire region through economic investment,” the White House said.
Related discussions, per Reuters:
White House adviser Jared Kushner made a whirlwind visit this week to rally U.S.-allied Gulf Arab allies to support his still-unannounced Middle East peace plan, the leaked contours of which suggest little has been done to address Arab demands.
Kushner’s approach to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not appear to have progressed since his last regional tour in June, focusing largely on economic initiatives at the expense of a land-for-peace deal long central to the official Arab position, two sources in the Gulf told Reuters on Wednesday…
One of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the plan presented this week did not appear to take into consideration previously stated Arab demands on the status of Jerusalem, the right of Palestinian refugees to return and Israeli settlements in occupied territory…
The source said Kushner, a real estate developer with little experience of international diplomacy or political negotiation, wanted to make a deal first and then agree on details.
The source added that the plan envisages a “substantial” financial contribution from Gulf states, but did not provide details…
Kushner was given responsibility for Israel-Palestinian policy two years ago, but has still not provided concrete details of U.S. efforts, which Trump has dubbed “the deal of the century”.
Kushner said in an interview on Monday that Washington would present the peace plan only after Israel’s election on April 9, though previous targets have passed without any announcement…
By my far-less-than-expert standards, the clip below is… well, I know it’s the MBA-speak with which J-Kush is most familiar, but is an American (however notoriously unqualified) official on camera talking about ‘eliminating the borders’ in the Middle East *really* a good idea?
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) February 26, 2019