WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama administration has made no decision on whether to remove Sudan from a list of terrorism-sponsoring countries, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday, a day after another administration official spoke in favor of its removal.
Sudan is hoping to improve diplomatic ties with the United States, which is now reviewing how best to deal with that government and the crisis in the nation's Darfur region, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million forced to fell their homes.
"We have made no decision to lift the listing on the terrorist list of Sudan," Clinton said at the State Department during a picture-taking session Friday. "As you know, there is a very intensive review going on within the administration concerning our policy toward Sudan, but no decisions have been made."
On Thursday, the Obama administration's special envoy to Sudan made headlines saying there is no evidence to keep Sudan on the terror-sponsor list. Envoy Scott Gration said at a Senate hearing called the terrorism designation "a political decision" and said it is hindering his work.
He said lifting sanctions against Sudan would allow heavy equipment and other assistance to flow more easily to people desperately in need.
The State Department denies there is any split on Sudan policy inside the administration.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was grilled for 15 minutes at his midday briefing about whether Grafton's comments signaled such a split and whether the United States is shifting gears toward Sudan.
"Sudan is a state-sponsor of terrorism. It's on our list. It remains on our list," Crowley said.
"What's important here, in any kind of evaluation - and we're going through an evaluation right now - we take stock of what has happened, we take stock of what is happening and, most importantly, we look forward. There are a number of critical issues inherent in the relationship between the United States and Sudan."
The special envoy also attracted attention Thursday by saying that the continuing violence in Darfur no longer qualifies as "genocide," a designation dating back to the Bush administration.
But Crowley said the United States remains deeply concerned about Darfur.
"(President Barack Obama) has said that genocide has taken place in Darfur," Crowley said. "But as Gen. Gration himself said yesterday, our focus is not on definitions, our focus is right now on the dire situation that we see with the people of Darfur."
Gration is a retired Air Force major general.