Kushner to lead US delegation to Middle East as tensions simmer

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will first go to Noem, Saudi Arabia. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Jared Kushner, senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, will travel to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week in a bid to ease tensions in the region, including the ongoing rift between Qatar and its neighbours.

Kushner, who's also Trump's son-in-law, will first go to Noem, Saudi Arabia, according to two people familiar with the matter.

His visit comes a few weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met there with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and, according to Israeli media, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Kushner's team hopes to make progress on a three-year rift between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council over allegations from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates that Qatar supports terrorism.

The US team recently helped negotiate three normalisation agreements in the Middle East, and discussions about a similar deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel are likely to come up.

People familiar with his schedule say Kushner met last week with Kuwaiti foreign minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, who's played an important role in recent mediation efforts.

The trip also comes in the aftermath of the assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Teheran, which has roiled regional relations yet again.

Expected to travel with Kushner will be White House envoy Avi Berkowitz, International Development Finance Corporation chief Adam Boehler, and former Iran envoy Brian Hook.

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