S. Korea says Jill Kelley 'honorary consul'
Position is honorary, State Department says
In a weekend 911 call to Tampa, Florida, police, Jill Kelley demanded that police help to remove people from her property, describing herself in what sounded like diplomatic terminology.
"I am an honorary consul general," said Kelley on the 911 recording from Sunday, when reporters began seeking her out because of her alleged link to the downfall of America's top spy, David Petraeus.
"I have inviolability. They should not be on my property. I don't know if you want to get diplomatic, uh, protection involved as well. It's against the law to cross my property..." the recording continued.
Kelley, it turns out, is an "honorary consul" for the South Korean government, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The official South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Kelley had "good connections and network and a willingness to develop Korea-U.S. relations, including the free trade agreement between the two nations."
South Korean officials told CNN that "an honorary consul can generally play a role of promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries".
South Korean Presidential Decree No. 23706 describes the duties as anything from "work(ing) to protect Korean national/resident living abroad" to "promoting interacting of trade, economy, art, science and education."
The honorary post, however, has no official responsibilities, in spite of Kelley's attempts to invoke "inviolability."
Yonhap cited a South Korean official as saying, "She will be relieved from the symbolic post if she is found to be problematic."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman, Cho Tae-yong, said regarding Kelley's honorary consul status, "Nothing is decided. We are currently observing the situation closely."
Kelley also had "honorary consul" license plates on her car. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said that she has the plates because she is an "honorary consulate."
But the State Department and the Defense Department stressed that Kelly had no official job with the U.S. government or the State Department. She was strictly a volunteer.
Jennifer Clinton, president of the nonprofit National Council for International Visitors based in Washington said, "From what I understand she was a volunteer to our member organization in Tampa."
"What the volunteers do typically is host some of the international visitors for dinner, or they'll speak to them and provide information about the local community," she said.
The council specializes in what is called "citizen diplomacy" which builds "person-to-person relationships 'one handshake at a time.'" The council, in turn, helps to implement international visitor programs for the State Department.
But that designation as "citizen diplomat" carries no legal or diplomatic privileges, even if Kelley tried to give that impression.
Kelley was also given the title of "honorary ambassador" by the U.S. Central Command, according to a defense official. The title is, "meaningless" and holds no power and is given for recognition of specific work, the official said.
The official assumed it was given to her for her work as a booster for the base and CENTCOM.
The title is nothing more than a certificate given by CENTCOM's Coalition Coordination Center, a group of military representatives from different countries that are working with the United States on terrorism issues. That group, led by a low-level U.S. military officer, recommended Kelley for the title.
It is unclear when she was given this title. As a honorary ambassador, Kelly would have duties such as organizing and facilitating unclassified briefings for community leaders to help them better understand the work of the U.S. Central Command and its allies, according to the official.
In a different role, Kelley also hosted many events off-base to honor members of the military and was hosting one when her name became public for her role in the Petraeus scandal, the official said. At that event, Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, CENTCOM's deputy commander had stopped by briefly as a guest, according to the official.
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