WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Libya agreed to cooperate closely in investigating the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which the ambassador to the North African state and three other Americans died.
The countries’ presidents, Barack Obama and Mohammed Magarief, spoke on Wednesday evening and “agreed to work closely over the course of this investigation,” the White House said.
On the 11th anniversary the 9/11 attacks, protests over a U.S. film featuring the Prophet Mohammad turned deadly in Libya’s second city, in what U.S. government officials may have been pre-planned assaults.
U.S. official told Reuters that the U.S. military is moving two destroyers toward the Libyan coast, giving the Obama administration flexibility for any future action against Libyan targets.
The military also is dispatching a Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team to boost security in Libya, and Washington has ordered the evacuation of all U.S. personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli.
Obama also called Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi about the protests in that country and said Egypt “must cooperate with the United States in securing U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel,” the White House said.
Security forces in Cairo fired teargas late on Wednesday to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators near the U.S. embassy, after protesters scaled the walls and tore down the flag over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad.
“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,” it also said.
The violence spurred by anti-U.S. sentiment in Benghazi and Cairo threatened to spread to other countries in the region.
Police fired teargas at angry demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Tunisia and several hundred people gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Sudan. In Morocco, a few dozen protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans near the U.S. consulate in Casablanca.
Reporting By Lisa Lambert; Editing by John Stonestreet