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Query on Saudi Democracy Causes Longest Awkward Pause in State Department History


Admiral Kirby is sadly gone but the State Department has brought forth another entertainer—with a completely different style.

Asked how US officials could criticize Iran's democratic deficit while standing next to senior Saudi head-choppers, acting Assistant Secretary Stuart Jones said....nothing. For what seemed like an eternity he sat there trying to figure out what he can even say about that.


QUESTION: "While you were over there, the Secretary criticized the conduct of the Iranian elections and Iran’s record on democracy. You did so standing next to Saudi officials. How do you characterize Saudi Arabia’s commitment to democracy, and does the administration believe that democracy is a buffer or a barrier against extremism?"

Eventually Jones managed a non-answer: "I think what we’d say is that at this meeting we were able to make significant progress with Saudi and GCC partners in both making a strong statement against extremism and also – and also putting in place certain measures through this GCC mechanism where we can combat extremism."

The episode was so awkward even the journalist who posed the question was embarrassed for the Assistant Secretary:

On the other hand, at least Jones was embarrassed about the hypocrisy of his government and agency. It seems not everyone at Foggy Bottom is completely shameless yet.

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