US & Canada

Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner in Iraq with top US general

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (R), welcomes Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2nd R), and US President Donald Trump"s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner (3rd L) in Baghdad. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Kushner travels to Iraq to express US support in the battle against IS

US President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has met Iraqi leaders in Baghdad, where he was briefed on the fight against the Islamic State group.

Mr Kushner, 36, the president's senior adviser, joined US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Joseph Dunford.

The Marine general said he invited Mr Kushner to hear about the situation on the ground "first-hand and unfiltered".

But some questioned why the 36-year-old went to Iraq before the US secretary of state or national security adviser.

"Totally normal," tweeted former Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes in an apparently sarcastic comment.

According to a Trump administration spokesman, Mr Kushner - a real estate heir with no prior diplomatic or political experience - was acting as an emissary for the president to express his support for Iraq's government.

Navy Captain Greg Hicks, Mr Dunford's spokesman, said during meetings with Iraqi officials that Mr Kushner would affirm US commitment to the fight against IS.

Kushner's limitless portfolio - Analysis, by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News

The Jared Kushner show has hit the road with a surprise visit to Iraq. It's the kind of unannounced trip that presidents and senior officials often make to show support for US troops overseas. This is something different, however.

Donald Trump hasn't been to Iraq yet. Neither has Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Mr Kushner clearly has become the president's trusted eyes and ears in Washington and around the world.

He is a man with a nearly limitless portfolio. Delicate foreign affairs matters, business-friendly government reform, improving services for veterans and solving the opioid addiction crises are all items on his to-do list.

Is Mr Kushner up to such a tall task, given that his public office experience can be measured in weeks? The president seems to think so - which sheds light Mr Trump's governing philosophy.

The problems facing the nation are easy to solve, he seems to believe. The only reason they haven't been fixed yet is because the political establishment is either too corrupt or too incompetent. With Donald Trump overseeing the operation, however, a bright young man like Mr Kushner can parachute in and set things right.

We'll soon find out if the president right.

Follow @awzurcher

Gen Dunford on Monday also said he extended the invite weeks ago to Mr Kushner and Tom Bossert, the president's homeland security adviser, to help them gain insight into the war.

"I said, 'Hey, next time I go to Iraq, if you're interested, come and it'd be good,'" Gen Dunford said.

"The more appreciation you could have for what's actually happening on the ground, the more informed you are when you start talking about the strategic issues."

Image copyright Reuters

Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, declined to speak to reporters on the plane before his arrival in Iraq on Monday, Reuters news agency reported.

His trip came as Iraqi security forces work to recapture Mosul, the last key IS stronghold in Iraq.

Nearly 290,000 people have fled the city in the wake of fighting, according to the United Nations.

Mr Kushner is expected later this week to attend meetings with Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

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Media captionJared Kushner has a long list of things to do

The son-in-law has a busy schedule in the Trump administration.

The president last week picked him to lead a task force with a remit as wide-ranging as reforming federal bureaucracy and tackling opioid abuse.

Mr Kushner also serves as a shadow diplomat on US relations with the Middle East, Canada and Mexico.

Furthermore, Mr Trump assigned him the role of brokering a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.