Jared Kushner personally intervened in Saudi arms deal: Report
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner personally intervened on a recent arms deal with Saudi Arabia ahead of Trump’s visit to the kingdom this week, said a report.
According to a report by The New York Times on Thursday, Kushner jumped to the Saudis’ assistance when it became clear that the cost of a sophisticated radar system, THAAD, might be an issue.
The negotiations were on a $100 billion-plus weapons deal which the White House hoped to reach with Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
White House officials said Kuchner made a phone call during the meeting with Lockheed Martin’s CEO, Marillyn Hewson, asking her to provide a discount for the radar system, similar to the one the US has already deployed to South Korea.
The deals are the latest in a series of controversial arms sales by the Trump administration to governments with poor human rights records, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company.
Trump heads to Saudi Arabia on Friday. The kingdom is keen to reset relations with Washington, which became strained under the Barack Obama administration.
“Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies, to combat extremism, terrorism and violence,” Trump said then.
Officials say that the White House is aiming to help strengthen Saudi Arabia’s armed forces while making sure that Israel, America’s main Middle East ally, maintains its military power.
Trump met with Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince and minister of defense, at the White House in mid-March. US Vice President Mike Pence, Kushner, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and top strategist Steve Bannon were also present at the meeting.
Kushner also traveled to Iraq in April reportedly trying to get a better picture of the overall situation in that country and show his support for the Iraqi government.