Obama calls Yemeni President over embassy stormingAgence France-Presse
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Thursday called Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to express concern about the safety of American personnel after a mob tried to storm the US embassy in Sanaa.
The White House said Obama also thanked Hadi for his swift condemnation of the violence and welcomed his investigation into the incident, part of widening protests against an anti-Muslim film produced in the United States.
“President Obama called Yemeni President Hadi to discuss the assault on the US embassy in Sanaa and express concern about the security of American personnel and diplomatic facilities in Yemen,” a White House statement said.
Hadi had earlier publicly apologized to Obama and the American people for the acts of a “mob” and ordered a probe.
“President Obama expressed appreciation for the cooperation we have received from the Yemeni government and underscored the importance of working together to ensure the security of US personnel going forward,” the statement said.
Yemeni police used water cannon and fired warning shots to expel protesters who breached the perimeter wall of the embassy and at least four people were killed as police battled to prevent any new incursion.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that there was a “small breach” of the perimeter US compound but that the embassy buildings themselves were not penetrated.
“We are obviously doing what we can with the Yemenis to restore security there. All of our personnel are safe and accounted for,” she said.
The White House said that Hadi had committed to doing everything possible to protect American citizens in Yemen, and said he had deployed additional security forces around the US Embassy.
The protests were part of widening unrest targeting Americans in the Middle East and North Africa, including in Cairo and in Benghazi where four people, including the US ambassador to Libya, were killed in the US consulate.
The unrest was blamed on outrage over an amateur, American-made film that which mocks Islam’s revered prophet Mohammed and was circulated on YouTube.
In the call with Hadi, Obama also “reiterated his rejection of any efforts to denigrate Islam, and emphasized that there is never any justification for the violence we are seeing,” the White House said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney earlier said the US government found the movie “disgusting and reprehensible” and noted America’s founding tolerance for religious freedom, including that of Muslims.
But he also explained that the Obama administration had no power under America’s founding principles guaranteeing free speech to stop the release of the film.
“We understand that it is hard for some people around the world to understand why the United States does not prevent movies like this from seeing the light of day,” Carney said. “That’s impossible to do.”
“Furthermore, and more importantly, our country has a long tradition of free expression that is protected by law,” he said.
“Our government does not and cannot stop individual citizens from expressing their views.”