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U.S. Senate Rejects Proposal To Suspend Aid To Pakistan, Egypt, Libya

Pakistani demonstrators topple a freight container placed by police to block a street during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Lahore on September 21.
The U.S. Senate has rejected by a vote of 81 to 10 a proposal to suspend foreign aid to the governments of Pakistan, Egypt, and Libya in response to recent attacks on U.S. interests in those countries.

The Senate's rejection of the proposal to suspend aid comes as the U.S. administration on September 21 thanked Pakistan for protecting the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad against protesters.

"I want to thank the government of Pakistan for their efforts to protect our embassy in Islamabad and consulates in Lahore, Peshawar, and Karachi," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in Washington.

"And I want to be clear -- as I have said on numerous occasions -- the violence we have seen cannot be tolerated."

Clinton added that Washington deplored the privately made video "The Innocence of Muslims" to which the protesters object. But she said the film should not be used as a justification for violence.

"Of course, there is provocation and we have certainly made clear that we do not in any way support provocation," Clinton said.

"We found that the video that is at the core of this series of events offensive, disgusting, reprehensible. But that does not provide justification for violence."

Protests, Violence Continue

Pakistani officials say at least 16 people were killed on September 21 in protests across the country as tens of thousands took to the streets to show their anger about an anti-Islam film and political cartoons in a French magazine mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

Violence around protests against the film and cartoon continued on September 22 in Bangladesh, where police and protesters clashed in Dhaka.

Police said the clash erupted when they attempted to stop the demonstration after protesters burned several vehicles. Islamist organizations are calling for a nationwide general strike on September 23 to protest the film and police efforts to stop street protests.

The defeated proposal in the U.S. Senate also would have denied aid to Pakistan unless it released Dr. Shakil Afridi.

Afridi allegedly helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden by running a fake vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA. The objective was to verify bin Laden's presence at the compound where the Al-Qaeda leader was later killed.

Afridi was convicted of high treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison. The United States has sought his release.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa
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