A senior White House official says Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, is in Iraq.
Kushner is traveling with General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who invited him, according to officials.
Details about Kushner’s visit were not immediately available, however Iraq’s fight against Islamic State jihadists is likely to be on the agenda. A U.S.-led international coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the insurgents to assist the Iraqi troops on the ground.
Kushner, like his father-in-law, has no previous government or diplomatic experience, but has quickly become one of the most powerful men in Washington. He is married to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.
The 36-year-old, who before entering the White House was a real estate investor and newspaper owner, has been given an almost impossibly ambitious portfolio, including both domestic and international responsibilities.
Kushner serves as a de facto top-ranking diplomat, advising his father-in-law on relations with Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East. He has been tasked with coming up with a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
He also is said to play a key role in White House staffing decisions and domestic policy debates. He recently launched a task force aimed at reshaping the entire federal government based on private sector principles.
Kushner’s visit to Iraq comes as Trump is seeking to speed up the fight against Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria. During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to “utterly destroy” the group.
Defense officials recently presented Trump with a plan to defeat the terrorist group, but details of the plan have not been released. So far, Trump’s strategy seems to involve expanded airstrikes.
Suspected U.S. airstrikes killed as many as 200 civilians last month in Mosul, which Iraqi forces are trying to wrest from Islamic State fighters. U.S. officials have acknowledged the deaths may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike, but accuse IS of “smuggling civilians into buildings so we won’t see them and trying to bait the coalition to attack.”