In a telling exchange from yesterday’s State Department Press Briefing, spokesman Ian Kelly underscored U.S. confusion on key questions regarding America’s Sudan policy:
QUESTION: On Sudan, this morning, Scott Gration, who, as you know, is the Special Envoy for Sudan, said that there was absolutely no evidence that Sudan – the Sudanese Government was a state sponsor of terrorism. Is this the Administration’s position? And if it is, when are you going to take them off the list?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I have not seen these remarks. When I see the remarks, we’ll be happy to provide comment on it.
QUESTION: There seems to be a debate within the Administration. When the envoy, General Gration, was here a few weeks ago, he talked about the remnants of genocide, said it was not an ongoing genocide. This caused an uproar in the Darfur advocacy community as well as within the Administration. And I believe you or one of your colleagues kind of had to walk it back, the statement, the next day.
How big of a debate is there going on in the Administration about what’s going on in Sudan, and how do you deal with it?
MR. KELLY: Well, look, I certainly don’t want to give you the impression that we don’t take this seriously. In fact, we take it so seriously, I want to be sure that we give you a completely accurate and thorough characterization of what our policy is. So I will take your question and we will get back to you this afternoon.
QUESTION: But this is not rocket science. I mean, either there’s a genocide or there’s not genocide. I mean, this has been something that has been going on within the Administration —
MR. KELLY: Sue, I have answered your question. I will – we will get you an answer this afternoon.
QUESTION: I mean, what is the – I don’t understand.
MR. KELLY: Are there any other issues that you would like to ask about, please?
General Gration took pains during his hearing yesterday to emphasize the congenial nature of his relationship with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and downplay the interagency disagreements that many believe are stalling the Sudan policy review process. He noted, "I will tell you in public that Susan Rice is one of my dear friends. She is one of two women in the world that I say, ‘I love you’ to. We have a comprehensive and integrated approach to insure that all elements will be taken care of."
Gration’s comments, however, did not really elucidate what consensus might be emerging. Officials note that the Sudan review should be rolled out in the coming weeks. Hopefully the clarity that will come with firm policy positions and guidelines will make for clearer State Department positions.