Saudi prince said to use Israeli-Palestinian conflict to get Kushner's support

Sean Penn Spotted Filming Documentary on Khashoggi’s Murder

Sean Penn Spotted Filming Documentary on Khashoggi’s Murder

The reason why the US under President Donald Trump has become so close to Saudi Arabia is due to the friendship cultivated between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Jared Kushner, The New York Times said Saturday.

The chummy relationship between the volatile prince and President Trump's son-in-law was initiated by the Saudis and has helped shape US-Mideast policy, to the consternation of National Security Council staffers, the Times wrote, citing anonymous former White House officials who declined to be quoted by name.

Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton had called bin Salman almost a week after Khashoggi went missing from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and amid an investigation into the journalist's disappearance, CNN reported in October.

Saudi Arabia has continuously denied reports of MBS' involvement in Khashoggi's killing, reinforcing that they are taking judicial measures to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"By the time of the inauguration Mr. Kushner was already arguing that under the influence of Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia could play a pivotal role in advancing a Middle East peace deal", The Times said, citing three people familiar with the matter.

According to the New York Times Saturday, some members of the administration have feared Saudi Arabia was playing the White House senior advisor. A Saudi delegation close to the prince visited the United States in November 2016 on a fact-finding mission of sorts and later put together a slide presentation.

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Given Kushner's political inexperience, the private exchanges could make him susceptible to Saudi manipulation, said three former senior USA officials.

Ultimately, Kushner was said to have helped catapult Mohammed bin Salman into the crown prince position, becoming the most influential leader in Riyadh at just 33 years old. US President Donald Trump has refused to sever ties with "key allies" Saudi Arabia over the journalist's death, despite a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report that concluded MBS to be behind Khashoggi's death.

"The inner circle is predominantly deal makers who lack familiarity with political customs and deep institutions, and they support Jared Kushner", the delegation observed.

Within months, Kushner had been courted to organize a formal meeting between Prince Mohammed and Trump, including honors normally reserved for heads of state.

The White House has responded to the report, saying Kushner has always followed protocol regarding his relationship with the Crown Prince. Their connection, though, has been pivotal since the start of the Trump administration.

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