Trump envoys Kushner, Greenblatt in Middle East to seek support for peace plan
By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is leading a U.S.
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is leading a U.S. delegation to the Middle East this week seeking support for a late June workshop aimed at helping the Palestinians, a White House official said on Tuesday.
Kushner, Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Kushner aide Avi Berkowitz began their trip in Rabat and were to travel to Amman and Jerusalem, arriving in Israel on Thursday.
Kushner also will attend the Bilderberg conference in Montreux, Switzerland, where he is expected to be a speaker, at the end of the week and then will meet U.S. President Donald Trump in London when the latter makes a state visit there next week.
The trip is similar to one that Kushner and Greenblatt took in February to Gulf states to drum up support for the economic portion of a Middle East peace plan they have been developing on behalf of Trump.
The official said one reason for this week's trip is to bolster support for a June 25-26 conference in Manama, Bahrain, in which Kushner is to unveil the first part of Trump's long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
The plan, touted by Trump as the "deal of the century," is to encourage investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Arab donor countries before grappling with thorny political issues at the heart of the conflict.
Palestinian leaders have been sharply critical of the effort. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have said they will participate, and a senior U.S. official said officials from Qatar have said privately their country was expected to attend as well.
The Russian foreign ministry took a dim view of the conference in a statement on Tuesday, saying the United States was attempting to "impose an ‘alternative vision’ of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.”
"The Palestinian leadership has already categorically refused to take part, saying that the PLO will not surrender to anyone its exclusive rights to make crucial decisions regarding the realization of Palestinians’ national aspirations," it said.
Participants in the conference in Manama are expected to include 300 to 400 representatives and business executives from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and possibly some Palestinian business leaders.
A source familiar with the planning said it appeared Egypt, Jordan and Oman, as well as the G7 countries, also would send representatives to the conference.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber in Moscow; Editing by Susan Thomas, James Dalgleish and Dan Grebler)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.