Indonesia trip complicates State Department Asia agenda
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell’s last-minute cancelation of a stopover in Japan prompted many in the Japanese press to speculate that he was trying to exert pressure on Tokyo over fate of a controversial U.S. air base on Okinawa. Not so, a State Department official close to the issue tells The Cable. Campbell, who ...
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell's last-minute cancelation of a stopover in Japan prompted many in the Japanese press to speculate that he was trying to exert pressure on Tokyo over fate of a controversial U.S. air base on Okinawa.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell’s last-minute cancelation of a stopover in Japan prompted many in the Japanese press to speculate that he was trying to exert pressure on Tokyo over fate of a controversial U.S. air base on Okinawa.
Not so, a State Department official close to the issue tells The Cable. Campbell, who was rounding up a regional tour that included nine countries in eight days, simply ran out of time when his duties in the other stops took longer than expected, the official said.
The real reason the trip was adjusted was because extra time was needed to prepare for President Obama‘s trip to Indonesia next week. Campbell will be traveling with Obama on the trip.
"The visit is complicating on several levels," the official said. "We have a series of relatively modest deliverables, but every point has been difficult."
Campbell has been leading the negotiations over the details of a new comprehensive partnership agreement between the United States and Indonesia. Part of that agreement will include language on climate-change cooperation and the promise of U.S. resources to help Indonesia to make reforms.
Campbell, who has traveled to Tokyo more than half a dozen times since taking up his post last year, canceled another stop in Thailand as well. That trip had been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but protesters outraged over recent conviction of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra were busy pouring blood on the gates of the prime minister’s home and office.
Campbell’s visit to Japan would have been cut down to only a couple of hours, so the State Department thought it better to wait for the next opportunity.
Besides, the official pointed out, the U.S. side is simply waiting for the Japanese government to decide how it wants to deal with the movement of the Futenma air base, so there wasn’t much substance to discuss at this stage.
"He’s in Tokyo every month and he’ll be back there in a few weeks," the official said.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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