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Kushner leading U.S. delegation to Middle East


    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump answer questions regarding the ongoing situation in North Korea, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

WASHINGTON >> White House adviser Jared Kushner is leading a delegation to the Middle East on behalf of President Donald Trump to discuss the possibility of resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

A White House official said Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, left Sunday along with Jason Greenblatt, envoy for international negotiations, and Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser.

They were in the Persian Gulf today and expected to be in Israel on Wednesday, the official said. They were planning to meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday.

The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the private meetings and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The three were expected to meet leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt during their trip.

Kushner, Greenblatt and Powell have been heavily involved in a behind-the-scenes process to help Trump broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, which the first-year president has called the “ultimate deal.”

The talks this week are aimed at helping forge a path to substantive peace negotiations, but no major breakthroughs are expected.

Trump has not outright endorsed the two-state solution, which has been at the heart of U.S. policy for nearly two decades.

The president has urged Israel to show restraint in settlement construction but not demanded a freeze, disappointing the Palestinians. Trump also pushed back a decision on his campaign pledge to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel has welcomed the promise, while the Palestinians have strongly opposed it.

In Saudi Arabia today, Kushner and other U.S. officials met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a report on the state-run Saudi Press Agency. Their talks included “realizing a genuine and lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis and to bring about security, stability and Middle Eastern prosperity,” as well as cutting off support for extremists, the report said.

The trip to Saudi Arabia comes as no surprise as the kingdom hosted the first overseas trip of Trump’s presidency. Saudi Arabia is now engulfed in a diplomatic dispute with Qatar, another U.S. ally nation in the Gulf that hosts a major American military base.

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