World / Politics

Erdogan meets with Trump adviser Jared Kushner to discuss Mideast peace

AFP-JIJI

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday met with U.S. President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, during the American official’s regional tour to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinians and Turkey has often been vocal in its criticism of the Israeli government and Washington, especially after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. Embassy there last year.

Erdogan said late Tuesday that the two men would discuss “economic and regional issues,” at the meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara although neither side said Syria was on the agenda.

The men were joined by Erdogan’s son-in-law and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, according to Turkish presidency images.

Kushner’s visit follows from Trump’s shock announcement in December — welcomed by Ankara — that he would withdraw 2,000 American ground troops from northern Syria.

Ankara has called for a “safe zone” controlled by Turkish forces to be a buffer area against the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

Trump last week indicated that a few hundred “peacekeeping” troops would remain in Syria despite intentions to withdraw by April 30.

There have been tensions between Washington and Ankara over U.S. support to the YPG, which has spearheaded the West’s fight against the Islamic State extremist group.

Other issues remain between the NATO allies, including the U.S. failure to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey claims orchestrated the 2016 failed overthrow of Erdogan. Gulen strongly denies the accusations.

Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. Middle East peace envoy, met officials from the United Arab Emirates and Oman on Monday alongside Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran. The officials were in Bahrain on Tuesday.

Kushner at a conference in Warsaw earlier this month presented Washington’s plans for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians to be formally presented after Israeli elections in April.