Kushner meets Saudi crown prince, Turkish leader to push Mideast peace plan

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By Reuters  with NBC News World News
Image: Jared Kushner and Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Jared Kushner meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday.   -   Copyright  KAYHAN OZER

White House adviser Jared Kushner continued a whirlwind overseas trip Wednesday aimed at rallying U.S. allies to support his still-unannounced Mideast peace plan.

Kushner, who is President Donald Trump's son-in-law, met with leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman this week. He arrived in Turkey on Wednesday. He last toured the region for peace talks in June.

Palestinians have refused to discuss any peace blueprint with the United States in the wake ofTrump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017, while some Arab leaders have publicly rejected any deal that fails to address Jerusalem's status or refugees' right of return.

Jared Kushner meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday.
Jared Kushner meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday.KAYHAN OZER

The White House said Wednesday that Kushner and U.S. officials also met with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss cooperation between the two countries and the peace plan, as well as "economic investment."

Kushner's meeting with the crown prince was the first since the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last October.

The White House readout did not say if they spoke about Khashoggi's killing. The murder drew international condemnation and heightened the scrutiny of the relationship between the Saudi royals and the Trump administration.

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Under the Arab Peace Initiative drawn up by Saudi Arabia in 2002, Arab nations offered Israel normal ties in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.

King Salman has dismissed Arab concerns that Saudi Arabia might back a U.S. deal that aligns with Israel on key issues, after the crown prince, who is close to Kushner, reportedly pressed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to support the administration's efforts.

Jordan, a U.S. ally where a majority of the population are descendants of Palestinians who fled during or after the creation of Israel in 1948, insists that no peace can be achieved without dealing with Jerusalem, where it serves as custodian of Muslim holy sites.

Kushner was given responsibility for Israel-Palestinian policy two years ago, but has still not provided concrete details of U.S. efforts, which Trump has dubbed "the deal of the century."

Kushner said in an interview on Monday that Washington would present the peace plan only afterIsrael's election on April 9.