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Kushner discusses Mideast peace with Saudi rulers

By AFP - Feb 28,2019 - Last updated at Feb 28,2019

US President Donald Trump, flanked by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, meets with Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed Bin Salman at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 20, 2017 (Reuters photo)

RIYADH — White House Adviser Jared Kushner held talks with Saudi Arabia's king and crown prince during a regional tour to rally support for a long-awaited Middle East peace proposal, US officials said on Wednesday.

Kushner's meeting on Tuesday with King Salman and his son Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was the first since journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder by Saudi agents last October sparked global uproar.

"Building on previous conversations, they discussed increasing cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and the Trump administration's efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians," the White House said in a brief statement

Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, was accompanied by Jason Greenblatt, the US Middle East peace envoy and Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran.

Earlier this month Kushner briefed countries at a conference in Warsaw on Washington's plans for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian to be formally presented after Israeli elections in April.

Top officials of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain — none of whom recognise Israel — attended the Warsaw conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who called the talks a "turning point".

But the Palestinians rejected the meeting as an "American conspiracy" with aims to "normalise" the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

The Palestinians have refused to talk to the Trump administration since the US president recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017.

They see the eastern part of the disputed city as the capital of their future state and have said Washington's pro-Israel bias meant the US could no longer be the main mediator in stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

The Trump administration has since dealt a series of blows to the Palestinian Authority, including cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for the Palestinians.

Amid Kushner's close relationship with Prince Mohammed, Saudi King Salman has rejected some Arab concerns that the kingdom could back a US deal that heavily favoured Israel.

He has said the kingdom was committed to an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

During his tour, Kushner also met leaders in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman this week. He met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey on Wednesday.

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