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Kushner set to travel to Saudi Arabia, with eyes on Israel normalization

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White House adviser Jared Kushner will travel to Saudi Arabia this week, in an apparent last-ditch effort to broker a normalization deal between the kingdom and Israel, according to a report on Sunday.

Kushner will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Neom — the Red Sea city where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week held a secret rendezvous with the prince, alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It was the first known visit to Saudi Arabia by an Israeli leader, but the talks on Iran and possible normalization reportedly yielded no substantial progress.

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A US official told Reuters on Sunday that Kushner is hoping to orchestrate additional normalization pacts between Israel and Arab states before the January inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden, following his success with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan. US President Donald Trump talks on a phone call with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, applaud in the Oval Office of the White House, Oct. 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Alex Brandon)

The Trump administration has hoped Saudi Arabia would join the UAE and Bahrain in recognizing Israel and forging diplomatic ties, a move seen as increasingly distant in the wake of Joe Biden’s election as US president. But Saudi leaders have hitherto indicated that Israeli-Palestinian peace will have to come first.

Kushner will also travel to Qatar during his trip. He will be accompanied by Middle East envoys Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook and chief executive of the US International Development Finance Corporation, Adam Boehler, according to the report.

During the trip, Kushner will also likely seek to heal a years-long rift between Qatar and other Arab states. Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, have imposed an air, naval and land embargo........

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