State Dept. official struggles to answer question on Saudi democracy

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News ID: 10089
Publish Date: 10:30 - 31 May 2017
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TEHRAN, May 31, YJC - A senior State Department official was visibly caught off guard when asked about the US government’s criticism of the Iranian elections and its silence over lack of such democratic process in Saudi Arabia.
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TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The awkward moment happened Tuesday when Acting Assistant Secretary of State Stuart Jones, who accompanied President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Saudi Arabia last week, was holding a press briefing about the trip’s achievements.

"While you were over there, the secretary criticized the conduct of the Iranian elections and Iran’s record on democracy. He 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 barrier against extremism?” the reporter asked.

Jones paused for 20 long seconds to collect his thoughts, during which he drew a deep breath and said "umm” twice, before he could barely answer the reporter’s question.

"I think what we would say is, that at this meeting, we were able to make significant progress with Saudi and GCC [Persian Gulf Cooperation Council] partners in both making a strong statement against extremism and also putting in place certain measures through this GCC mechanism where we can combat extremism," Jones answered.

"Clearly one source of extremism – one terrorism threat – is coming from Iran. And that’s coming from a part of the Iranian apparatus that is not at all responsive to its electorate," he added.

During his visit to Riyadh, Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom. He named Iran as the target of the deal and urged cooperative measures between the US and Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries against what he characterized as Iran's destabilizing role in the region. 
 
Source: Press TV
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