Friday 18 October 2019

Kushner 'counselled' Saudi crown prince after murder of Khashoggi


Jared Kusher: US officials were wary of his contacts with the crown prince. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Jared Kusher: US officials were wary of his contacts with the crown prince. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Rob Crilly

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, reportedly offered private counselling to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, on "how to weather the storm" after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Three former senior officials told the 'New York Times' they had long feared that Mr Kushner's informal conversations with the prince made him susceptible to manipulation.

The White House has reimposed rules that National Security Council staffers must be included on calls with foreign leaders, they said.

But Mr Kushner and the crown prince continued to talk - often by text - even after the October 2 death of Mr Khashoggi had sent relations between the two countries into a spin, according to the claims of two of the former officials and two people briefed by the Saudis.

A White House spokesman told the 'New York Times': "Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines regarding the relationship with the crown prince and other foreign officials with whom he interacts."

The crown prince has denied any involvement in Mr Khashoggi's murder.

Despite its initial denial of involvement, Saudi Arabia subsequently admitted that a team of rogue operatives flew to Turkey and killed Mr Khashoggi. The CIA has determined that the crown prince personally ordered the killing.

However, Mr Trump has thrown his support behind Saudi Arabia, insisting that the US has yet to finally conclude who was responsible and talking up the importance of ties with the country in keeping Iran in check. The relationship has been two years in the making, including a meeting with the crown prince's most senior aides in the month when Mr Trump was elected.

The new allegations that the two remained in close contact brought fresh calls from critics of Mr Trump to take a tougher stance.

Marco Rubio, who sits on the US Senate foreign relations committee, said the relationship with Saudi Arabia came with human rights obligations. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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