Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump’s son-inlaw spoke publicly for the first time on his relationship with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammad bin Salman on Monday in the wake of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, an American resident and journalist, in a Saudi consulate that implicated the Arab leader.
Jared Kushner, who serves as an adviser to the president and who rarely speaks on record, also addressed questions about his plan for Israeli- Palestinian peace. Kushner leads the White House effort, which has been in the works for more than 20 months.
Kushner said he did not take Saudi Arabia’s account of Khashoggi’s murder at face value
and that the Trump administration remains in a fact-finding phase. Officials in Turkey, where Khashoggi was killed, say that top Saudi officials lured the journalist to the consulate, where they killed and dismembered him.
Riyadh claims the operation was executed by rogue Saudi officials without authority from royal leadership.
“I see things that are deceptive every day,” he said, asked whether he trusts the crown prince. “I see them in the Middle East. I see them in Washington. Every day we deal with different people who are trying to deceive us in different ways.”
“I would not say the strategy in the Middle East relies on Saudi Arabia,” he added, when further asked by CNN’s Van Jones at an event hosted by the broadcast network whether Riyadh was the linchpin in the president’s strategy against Iran.
But Kushner noted that his portfolio covers Israeli-Palestinian peace – not the wider region.
“I’m as optimistic as I can be,” Kushner said of the effort. “We’ve made a lot of progress on the Middle East peace program.”
“We’ve spoken to a lot of people and past negotiators,” he continued, “and what we realized is that not a lot has changed over the last 25 years. We’re hopeful we can isolate the real disagreements and make further progress.”
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