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MBS dodges question on $2B injection into Kushner’s private equity
Mohammed bin Salman (pictured left) has said he doesn’t see an issue with a Saudi Arabian wealth fund injecting $2billion into Jared Kushner’s private equity – despite his family links to former president Donald Trump. In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News, the 38-year-old controversial Crown Prince admitted ‘mistakes’ over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and warned his country will get nukes if Iran does.
Six months after Trump left the White House in 2020, his son-in-law and former senior adviser Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) led by MbS. When asked by Fox presenter Bret Baier whether this created a conflict of interest – and if the royal family would pull the money should Donald Trump win re-election – MbS said ‘if it’s legal, what’s the problem?’ ‘We look for opportunities in investment,’ he said. ‘We have a lot of investment around the globe with a lot of people with economic opportunity.’
On whether the $2billion would remain with Kushner even if Trump becomes president again, MbS answered in the affirmative. ‘It’s a commitment that PIF have and when PIF have a commitment with any investor around the globe, we keep it,’ he said. Pushed on whether he recognized that this could create a conflict of interest, he said: ‘Saudi Arabia is so big, so I’m quite sure mostly any person around the world directly or indirectly you have something to do with Saudi Arabia. So if that can affect President Trump’s decision if he becomes a President, that means it can affect every president in the world and every person in the world’s decision. Because directly and indirectly they have some sort of interest in something to do with Saudi Arabia.’
Kushner secured the massive deal from the PIF despite his firm being flagged for its ‘inexperience’ and ‘public relations risks’ by a panel of economics experts who screen the wealth fund’s investments. During his time in the White House, Kushner was known for his close personal relationship with Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman and for helping him secure a $110 billion arms deal. He was among the Saudi royal family’s staunchest defenders within the administration amid international outrage over its murder of US-based journalist and MbS critic Jamal Khashoggi.
Asked about the slaying of Khashoggi (pictured), MbS said he was reforming the kingdom’s security system to make sure this kind of ‘mistake’ does not happen again. ‘We take all the legal measurements that any country took … We did that in Saudi Arabia and the case being closed,’ MbS said. ‘Also, we try to reform the security system to be sure that these kind of mistakes doesn’t happen again, and we can see in the past five years nothing of those things happened. It’s not part of what Saudi Arabia do.’
The Biden administration released a declassified report by U.S. intelligence concluding that MbS ‘approved’ the operation that killed Khashoggi – but took no action against the crown prince himself. MbS was also questioned about the possibility of Iran eventually creating a nuclear weapon, and he confirmed that that if Iran were to begin building an arsenal, Saudi Arabia will seek to do the same.
‘We are concerned if any country getting a nuclear weapon: That’s a bad, that’s a bad move,’ he said. ‘They don’t need to get nuclear weapon because you cannot use it.’ When asked how he would respond to Iran securing a nuke, he said: ‘If they get one we have to get one’.
MbS also spoke about relations with Israel, claiming that his country was moving steadily closer to normalizing relations with the country. ‘Every day we get closer,’ he said, referring to Israel – a hot topic in Washington as Biden’s administration presses ahead with an effort broker historic ties between the two regional powerhouses.
The normalization talks are the centerpiece of complex negotiations that also include discussions of U.S. security guarantees and civilian nuclear help that Riyadh has sought, as well as possible Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. ‘For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part,’ MbS, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, said when asked what it would take to get a normalization agreement. ‘And we have a good negotiations strategy until now. We got to see where we go. We hope that will reach a place that will ease the life of the Palestinians and get Israel as a player in the Middle East,’ he said.
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