ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday met with US 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 US 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 US-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 US support to the YPG which has spearheaded the West’s fight against the Islamic State group.
Other issues remain between the NATO allies including the US 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 US Middle East peace envoy, met officials from the United Arab Emirates and Oman on Monday alongside Brian Hook, the US 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.
On Wednesday The New York Times reported that the peace plan may include a call for investments of tens of billions of dollars to the Palestinians and other countries in the region.
The Times, citing unidentified analysts with knowledge of the matter, said the funds would include around $25 billion for the West Bank and Gaza and another $40 billion for Israeli neighbors including Egypt, Jordan and possibly Lebanon. The paper noted that other sources who had spoken to Kushner said the figures were not necessarily accurate, but confirmed that the investments would be in the tens of billions.
Kushner is reportedly seeking to persuade Middle East leaders to get behind those proposals as he tours the region.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.