Kushner Deal in Serbia Follows Earlier Interest by Trump

The plan by Jared Kushner and his business partners to redevelop a prized location in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, echoes interest from Donald J. Trump a decade ago in pursuing a deal for the site and a similar proposal pushed during his White House term by a top aide now working with Mr. Kushner, a review of the project shows.

The tentative agreement between the Kushner team and the Serbian government would grant Mr. Kushner’s investment firm a 99-year lease, at no charge, and the right to build a luxury hotel and apartment complex and a museum on the site of the former headquarters of the Yugoslav Ministry of Defense in Belgrade, which was bombed by NATO in 1999. A draft outline of the agreement was provided to The New York Times by a Serbian official.

In 2013, two years before he began running for president, Mr. Trump — Mr. Kushner’s father-in-law — told a top Serbian government official that he wanted to build a luxury hotel on the site. Associates of the Trump Organization traveled to Belgrade to inspect the location. The project did not come together before Mr. Trump’s election in 2016, and after being sworn in he vowed to not do any new foreign deals.

But developing the site would again draw interest from Mr. Trump’s circle.

Richard Grenell, whom Mr. Trump had appointed as a special envoy in the Balkans, pushed a related plan during the Trump administration that Serbia and the United States jointly work to rebuild the Defense Ministry site. He argued in favor of using American investments to transform the Belgrade site while he was still serving in his official capacity as an American diplomat in 2020, according to transcripts and a recording of remarks made during several government news conferences.

Mr. Kushner said in an interview on Sunday that he had never discussed the Belgrade project with Mr. Trump and was not aware of his father-in-law’s prior interest in redeveloping the site.

“I had no idea my father-in-law had been interested in that region, and I doubt he has any awareness of this deal we are working on,” Mr. Kushner said.

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