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Jill Kelley is an ‘honorary consul’ of South Korea

Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite connected to ISAF Commander John Allen and former CIA Director David Petraeus, is an "honorary consul" of South Korea, a diplomatic official with direct knowledge of the arrangement told The Cable. "She is an ‘honorary consul’ of the Republic of Korea," the official said. "She assumed this position last August thanks ...

Associated Press
Associated Press

Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite connected to ISAF Commander John Allen and former CIA Director David Petraeus, is an "honorary consul" of South Korea, a diplomatic official with direct knowledge of the arrangement told The Cable.

Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite connected to ISAF Commander John Allen and former CIA Director David Petraeus, is an "honorary consul" of South Korea, a diplomatic official with direct knowledge of the arrangement told The Cable.

"She is an ‘honorary consul’ of the Republic of Korea," the official said. "She assumed this position last August thanks to her good connections and network."

The position of honorary consul is symbolic and has no official responsibilities, the official said.

"She does not work as a real consul. They play a role to improve the relationship between the ROK and the U.S.," the official said. "Jill Kelley helped to get support for [the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement] and she arranged meetings between the ROK Ambassador to Washington and local businessmen when the ROK Ambassador visited the Tampa area."

There’s no implication that the South Korean government has anything to do with the growing scandal that involves Kelly, Allen, Petraeus, and Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’s biographer and alleged mistress. But her work on behalf of the South Koreans may explain some of the 20,000 to 30,000 pages of e-mails between her and Allen that the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s office is investigating now.

Kelley does drive a Mercedes sedan with license plates that say "Honorary Consul," and she invoked her honorary diplomatic status in a Nov. 11 911 call when she was complaining about trespassers on her private property.

"I’m an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability, so they should not be able to cross my property," she told the 911 operator. "I don’t know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well, because that’s against the law to cross my property because, you know, it’s inviolable."

"Ok, no problem, I’ll let the officer know," the 911 operator responded.

In fact, "honorary" diplomats have no specific privileges or protections under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and therefore her property is not actually ”inviolable" as a matter of international law.

A New York Post report today said that Kelley’s sister Natalie Kwaham had invoked Allen and Petraeus’s names in her custody battle. She also invoked in legal papers the names of Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Spokesmen for Kerry and Whitehouse both said the senators had met Kwaham through Kwaham’s boyfriend Gerald Harrington, a Democratic Party fundraiser.

Calls to Kelley for comment were not returned.

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 josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.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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