Trump Middle East adviser Kushner holds talks with EU leaders on peace plan

Special Adviser to the US President, Jared Kushner, travelled to Brussels from London, where his father-in-law Donald Trump is making a state visit. (AFP)
Updated 04 June 2019
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Trump Middle East adviser Kushner holds talks with EU leaders on peace plan

  • They discussed the Middle East situation and other geopolitical issues
  • The trip comes with international hopes for a US peace plan for the Middle East running low

BRUSSELS: President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East peace adviser Jared Kushner met European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker for talks in Brussels on Tuesday.
Kushner arrived in Brussels from London, where his father-in-law is making a state visit, and the trip came with international hopes dimming for a US peace plan for the Middle East.
Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters they would discuss “the Middle East situation and other geopolitical issues,” without giving further details. EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini also took part in the meeting.
Trump, whose administration has staunchly backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acknowledged doubts about the plan himself on Monday, while Kushner suggested that Palestinians were not ready to govern themselves.
The United States is to lay out an economic component of the plan, which has been spearheaded by Kushner, on June 25 and 26 in Bahrain, where Gulf Arab states are expected to make pledges to boost the troubled Palestinian economy.
But it is not clear when the political aspects of the plan — which are expected to avoid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state — will be unveiled.
Abandoning the call for a Palestinian state would end years of US support for the so-called “two-state” solution, which envisages separate homelands for Jews and Palestinians.
The EU is still firmly behind the two-state solution with Jerusalem as capital of both states — in contrast to Washington, which has recognized the city as Israel’s capital.


Leaders of Japan, France share Middle East concerns

Updated 20 min 21 sec ago
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Leaders of Japan, France share Middle East concerns

TOKYO: French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to bolster naval defense ties in the Indo-Pacific region and shared concerns about growing tensions in the Middle East.
Macron, in Tokyo ahead of this week’s Group of 20 summit in Osaka, told a joint news conference that he also hoped tensions over the US-China trade dispute will ease during the summit.
The two leaders discussed nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran and issues to be raised at the G-20 summit.
Macron said he and Abe agreed on the need to ensure the verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of both Iran and North Korea.
“On both these topics we have a common point of view and a real will, in the two cases, to reach collective security by the non-acquisition of nuclear weapons or the total, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” Macron said. “And we have the will to ensure the stability of these regions.”
Abe said protecting the safety of the Strait of Hormuz is also crucial. During his recent visit to Tehran in hopes of de-escalating tensions between Iran and the US, a Japanese oil tanker was attacked, though all 21 crewmembers were safe.
“Securing safety of navigation at the Strait of Hormuz, which connects Europe and Asia, is extremely important for the peace and stability of international society including Japan and France,” Abe said. He said he and Macron shared concerns about the rising tension in the Middle East, and reaffirmed their cooperation in efforts to stabilize the situation.
Asked about former Nissan and Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn, charged with financial misconduct, Macron said he is “attached to the principle of the presumption of innocence and to the rights of the defense.” He also said France is responsible for protecting an important company and its employees from a negative impact, and to reaffirm the “solidity” of Renault and that of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Macron said heightened tensions caused by the trade dispute between the US and China are also a global concern.
“We are at a time of very high tensions between the United States and China, so I wish we have, during the G-20, talks that will enable the appeasement of these tensions,” Macron said.
“For me, the solution to the problems we encounter is not in bilateral agreements, is not in bypassing international rules, is not in protectionism, but it is very clearly in the modernization of the trade multilateral framework,” Macron said.
Talks planned for Saturday between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit are getting extensive attention.
Abe, at another news conference, said he hopes the two leaders will have a constructive dialogue.
Japan and France also unveiled a five-year roadmap of cooperation focusing on maritime security, especially in the Indo-Pacific where China has been growing increasingly assertive. They also agreed to promote cooperation in defense technology, space, and science and technology.