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Obama speaks to leaders of Libya, Egypt

September 13, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • President Obama takes a moment before a stump speech in Las Vegas to acknowledge the victims of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
President Obama takes a moment before a stump speech in Las Vegas to acknowledge… (Isaac Brekken / Getty Images )

STAPLETON, Colo. --  President Obama spoke with the leaders of Libya and Egypt late Wednesday to discuss security for U.S. personnel in the wake of attacks on diplomatic posts in both countries.

In a phone call with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Obama "underscored the importance of Egypt following through on its commitment to cooperate with the United States in securing U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel," according to a statement issued by the White House.

Morsi, head of the country's new Islamic government, had issued only a mild rebuke of the protesters who stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday. The protesters purportedly were angered by an anti-Muslim video posted online.

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"The president said that he rejects efforts to denigrate Islam, but underscored that there is never any justification for violence against innocents and acts that endanger American personnel and facilities," the White House said of the call with Morsi.

The Egyptian leader "expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of American life in Libya and emphasized that Egypt would honor its obligation to ensure the safety of American personnel," the White House said.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed Tuesday after protesters attacked and set fire to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf had expressed his condolences earlier in the day. In his phone call with the new Libyan leader, Obama thanked him for his remarks and for his government's cooperation in the investigation into who killed the ambassador and the others.

"The president made it clear that we must work together to do whatever is necessary to identify the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice," the White House said in a separate statement.

"The two presidents agreed to work closely over the course of this investigation. The president reaffirmed our support for Libya's democratic transition, a cause Ambassador Stevens believed in deeply and did so much to advance."

The conversation was the first between the leaders since Magariaf was elected last month.

Obama made the calls from a hotel in Colorado, where he is campaigning.

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kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

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