Wendy Sherman headed to Israel and Jordan
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman will go to Israel and Jordan next week in advance of the visit there by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, the State Department said Wednesday. "Following the P5+1 talks in Kazakhstan with Iran on its nuclear program, Under Secretary Sherman is traveling from February 28-March 4 ...
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman will go to Israel and Jordan next week in advance of the visit there by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, the State Department said Wednesday.
"Following the P5+1 talks in Kazakhstan with Iran on its nuclear program, Under Secretary Sherman is traveling from February 28-March 4 to Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, where she will meet with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Foreign Ministers," the office of outgoing State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. The statement didn’t say what Sherman would do there or whom she would meet.
Kerry and Obama will visit Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan later in March. Kerry will not visit those countries on his current nine-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East, but he will be in that region with stops in Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar in the next few days,
Several State Department sources told The Cable that Kerry had wanted to visit Israel on his maiden voyage as secretary of state. There was a back and forth between the State Department and the White House. Ultimately, the decision was made that Kerry and Obama would visit Israel together.
In a press briefing earlier this month, Nuland said that Kerry wasn’t going on his own because the Israeli government was still in the process of getting set up after the last round of elections.
"Given the fact that the government coalition negotiations in Israel are still underway, the secretary will be traveling there with the president when he visits later in the spring in lieu of making his own separate trip in February to Jerusalem and Ramallah," she said.
Former Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller, now with the Wilson Center, told The Cable that it was wise of the administration not to send Kerry to Israel before the Obama visit.
"By going to Israel before the president, Kerry would risk exposing himself as not a serious player and taking away the president’s own fire. All eyes should be on Obama. Not only is that the way Obama wants it; that’s also the best approach to take," he said.
What matters now concerning Israel is whenObama sits down with the Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for a private conversation, they test their capacity to reach understandings with one another on Iran and the Palestinian issue, Miller said.
"Kerry’s relationship with Bibi isn’t broken; Obama’s is. So too, the president needs to have a public conversation with the Israeli people and to personalize his often remote, detached persona. John Kerry can’t do either of these things; nor should he be expected to," he 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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