According to US media reports, Kushner will meet the Qatari emir and the Saudi crown prince to end the gap in the Gulf region.
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and his team will travel to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week to hold talks to settle the dispute between neighboring Gulf states.
A senior official in President Donald Trump’s administration told Reuters on Sunday that Kushner would meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in the Saudi city of Neom and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in the country the coming days.
Kushner is keen to convince the Saudi and Qatari leaders to reconcile and reach an agreement on a number of issues, Axios reported, citing US officials.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties and placed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar in 2017. Doha has been accused of supporting terrorism and a list of 13 claims has been issued.
Qatar rejected the allegations and demands and accused the blockade countries of having attacked their sovereignty.
US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said earlier this month that resolving the Gulf crisis was a government priority and that the option would be before Trump leaves office in January.
A senior Saudi official last month said some progress had been made in attempts to resolve the more than three-year dispute and said Riyadh was “determined to find a solution”.
“We are ready to continue to work with our brothers from Qatar and we hope that they are equally committed to this commitment,” said Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
“But we have to address the Quartet’s legitimate security concerns, and I think there is a way to get there” with a solution “in the relatively near future,” he said.
Earlier this month, Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said there were no winners in the Gulf crisis and that Doha was confident that it would end “any moment”.
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (left) meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (right) during his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [File: Saudi Press Agency via Reuters]United States Envoys for the Middle East, Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook, will join Kushner, as will Adam Boehler, executive director of the US International Development Finance Corporation, Reuters and Axios reported.
Kushner and his team have been helping negotiate normalization agreements between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan since August. Officials said they would like to press ahead with more such agreements before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, US media reported.
US officials believe luring Saudi Arabia into an agreement with Israel would lead other Arab nations to follow suit. But the Saudis don’t seem on the verge of such a milestone, and officials have been focusing on other countries in recent weeks, with concerns about Iran’s regional influence being a unifying factor.
Kushner’s trip follows the murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran on Friday by unidentified attackers. Western and Israeli governments believe that Fakhrizadeh is the architect of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Days before the murder, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Saudi Arabia and met MBS, an Israeli official said on the first publicly confirmed visit by an Israeli leader. The Israeli media said they would be supported by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The historic meeting underlined how the opposition to Tehran is bringing about a strategic realignment of the countries in the Middle East.
MBS and Netanyahu fear that Biden will introduce a policy towards Iran similar to that adopted by Barack Obama during the US presidency, which strained Washington’s relations with its traditional allies in the Middle East.
Biden has announced that he will rejoin the international nuclear pact with Iran, which Trump canceled in 2018, and work with allies to strengthen its terms if Tehran initially resumes strict compliance.
The official said Kushner met with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah at the White House last week. Kuwait is viewed as critical in solving a three-year gap between Qatar and the blockade countries.