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Trump's Middle East team talk Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in Egypt

Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo [AP]

Date of publication: 22 June, 2018

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Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt continued their Middle East tour in Cairo with President Sisi.

President Donald Trump's Middle East team arrived in Egypt on Thursday as part of a regional tour to discuss a blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and envoy Jason Greenblatt met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the capital Cairo, according to a White House statement. The visit was part of efforts to iron out obstacles to the deal the team is in charge of drafting.

The meeting touched upon "the need to facilitate humanitarian relief to Gaza," the statement said.

The Israeli-Egyptian blockaded Gaza strip has sunk into a deep humanitarian crisis, especially after dozens of Palestinians were killed when Israeli soldiers opened fire on protesters near the border.

Kushner has been leading efforts to broker a peace deal between the two sides. US officials have said the long-awaited peace plan is near completion and should be released this summer following several postponements.

In Egypt, Thursday's meeting with the US delegation also dealt with increasing Egyptian-American cooperation, the White House said without elaborating.

Egypt's presidency released a statement after the meeting saying it mainly discussed the Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts and cooperation. It said the meeting was attended by Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the acting head of general intelligence Abbas Kamel.

Washington gives Egypt some $1.3 billion in annual military assistance and hundreds of millions more in civilian aid that is linked to Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel. 

The Trump team met on Tuesday with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Wednesday with Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who acknowledged the talks afterwards.

Later on Thursday, the team traveled to Qatar and met with its emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, according to a White House statement. They discussed increasing cooperation between the two countries, ways to provide humanitarian relief to Gaza and possibilities for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Kushner and Greenblatt will not be meeting any Palestinian officials during their tour.

In May, Kushner attended and spoke at the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, during which more than 60 Palestinian protesters were shot dead by Israeli soldiers as they protested inside Gaza.

Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab countries to have a peace treaty with Israel. There have long been suggestions of behind-the-scenes military and intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel, although officials from both countries rarely comment publicly on them.

An Israeli-Egyptian blockade, three wars with Israel and a series of Palestinian Authority sanctions have left Gaza's economy in tatters, with unemployment well over 40 percent and electricity only available for a few hours a day.

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