Saudi Crown Prince to Meet U.S. Jewish Leaders for Talks on Iran, Mideast Peace and anti-Semitism

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, March 22, 2018.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, March 22, 2018.Credit: Cliff Owen/AP

WASHINGTON – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman will meet with Jewish American leaders in New York as part of his two-week visit to the United States.

The meeting, which was first reported by Jewish Insider, will focus on issues such as Saudi Arabia's rivalry with Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the kingdom's approach to anti-Semitism. The crown prince, who is known as MBS, and his father, King Salman, have previously hosted Jewish leaders from the United States in Saudi Arabia. 

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MBS arrived in the U.S. last week and met with U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House. He also held discussions with Trump's son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, and with the administration's special envoy to the Middle East peace process, Jason Greenblatt, about the peace plan they are currently working on. Saudi Arabia has expressed its support for the Trump administration's efforts at reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. 

While he was in Washington, MBS also met with representatives from a number of leading think tanks. Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir spoke at the Brookings Institution and said that "commonality of interests" between Israel and Saudi Arabia regarding Iran "does not mean we have to have diplomatic relations." He also said Saudi Arabia would prefer to establish formal relations with Israel only after a peace accord is signed, and not before.

Earlier this month, MBS met the head of the Anglican church in London and promised to promote interfaith dialogue as part of his domestic reforms, the British faith leader's office said. Saudi Arabia currently does not tolerate non-Muslims practising their faith publicly.

Jared Kushner has a close relationship with the Saudi crown prince and reportedly communicates with him directly using WhatsApp. Their last meeting took place in October in Riyadh during Kushner's unannounced visit to the Saudi capital as part of Trump's special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. According to an Intercept report last week, MBS told confidants after the meeting that he had Kushner "in his pocket" – a claim the crown prince later denied

Senior U.S. government officials have raised concerns that foreign officials might try to influence Kushner through business deals with his family’s real estate empire. In February, Kushner lost access to top-secret U.S. Government intelligence, as a result of his difficulties in acquiring a long-term security clearance from the intelligence community. 

A week following Kushner's secret trip to Saudi Arabia the crown prince launched the "Saudi Purge" against the kingdom's political and business elite under the guise of anti-corruption efforts.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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