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Saudi minister rules out extraditing suspects in death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

10 December 2018

Kushner, who is Trump's son-in-law, was singled out by Saudi officials seeking to take advantage of the incoming administration's lack of political experience and ambitions for the Middle East, according to The New York Times, which cited senior officials Saturday as well as documents, emails and text messages.

Kushner, 37, also inquired about whether the USA could help his contemporary in the succession process before he became crown prince, and bent protocol to give the Saudi leader, 33, unusual White House treatment, the paper reported.

Although White House protocol stipulates a National Security Council staff should be present on any phone calls with foreign leaders, Kushner and Salman continued to chat informally after Khashoggi's death, said the Times.

Turkish officials said last week that the prosecutor's office had concluded there was "strong suspicion" that Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and General Ahmed al-Asiri, who served as deputy head of foreign intelligence, were among the planners of Khashoggi's October 2 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

But the ties between Kushner and Prince Mohammed did not happen on their own. The Saudis were trying to position themselves as key allies who could help the Trump administration with its campaign pledges while enlisting USA support for its own policies.

In addition to offering to help resolve the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, the Saudis offered hundreds of billions of dollars in deals to buy American weapons and invest in American infrastructure. From there, he wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticised the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

After the 2016 presidential election, a group of Saudi delegates met with Kushner, and then reported back to Riyadh that Kushner had been satisfied in Saudi Arabia's role in fighting terrorism, along with a proposal to share intelligence to help fight against extremism, according to a presentation prepared by the delegation.

Saudi Arabia has detained 21 people in connection to the murder.

Several Senators, after a briefing with Central Intelligence Agency chief Gina Haspel on December 4, stated that they were convinced of MBS' role in Khashoggi's death.

It appears to have been the first face-to-face meeting between Kushner and the prince, but Kushner raised eyebrows by telling others in the White House that he and Prince Mohammed had already spoken several times before, two people at the event recalled.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment on the story.

Visits by Kushner to Saudi Arabia also coincided with moves by bin Salman to consolidate power in the kingdom.

Saudi minister rules out extraditing suspects in death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi