The subject is deadly serious -- whether the ongoing crisis in Sudan is still genocide or not.
Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, reportedly wasn't happy when President Barack Obama's special envoy to Sudan referred to what's happening there as the "remnants of genocide." Her worry: That Jonathan S. "Scott" Gration's comment would signal that the U.S. is less concerned about what's happening in that African nation, where hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions displaced.
But at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, Gration had a unique way of downplaying any intra-administration friction.
"There's few women in the world that I say 'I love you to.' Susan's one of them. I love Susan," Gration said, generating some laughs from those at the hearing.
"I'm heartened that people in the administration are fond of each other," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
Wicker's is the first voice on this audio clip:
Love Blooms At Otherwise Serious Senate Session On Sudan
Gration's prepared remarks, by the way, are posted here. He says at one point:
The great human tragedies that have occurred in Darfur and the rest of Sudan are deeply embedded in our memories. Many people in Sudan suffer terribly from the pain and loss brought by conflict, and it is these people who deserve our support.
We have made progress in recent months, but we have much work ahead.
(Our thanks to NPR's Michele Kelemen for telling us about that exchange.)