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The statement, which appeared to have been meant as a pre-emptive apology to Egyptians for the existence of the “Innocence of Muslims” film, was stripped from the website shortly after the violence erupted in Cairo on Sept. 11.

The Obama administration also quickly distanced itself from the statement last week. But it didn’t do so before the statement was seized upon by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who accused the administration of having “sympathized with those who breached our embassy in Egypt” — a claim Democrats and some Republicans now say was made prematurely.

At the State Department, Ms. Nuland said she would not comment “one way or the other” on the question of intelligence that may have been given to diplomats before the start of the ongoing violence.

Concerning the attack in Libya, she said that “all of these things are going to be looked at in the context of the FBI investigation.”

Anger that saw the American flag desecrated and U.S. Embassy walls breached last week appears to have subsided in Egypt and Tunisia. But fresh protests against “Innocence of Muslims,” made by an Egyptian-born American citizen, turned violent in Pakistan and Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday. Hundreds joined rallies in Indonesia and Thailand.

In Kabul, the Afghan capital, a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a minibus carrying South African aviation workers to the city’s airport, killing at least 12 people.

The Islamist militant group Hizb-i-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Associated Press, which reported that the group is headed by 65-year-old former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar — a former Afghan prime minister who was once a U.S. ally.

Pressure on Congress

Pressure has increased this week for Congress to conduct an independent investigation into last week’s attacks in Egypt and Libya as lawmakers and even Libyan officials dispute the Obama administration’s assertion that the attacks were merely mob violence spawned by an offensive film.

Calls for such a probe come in the heat of an election year, and Mr. Romney has accused the president of mishandling the situation. Mr. Obama, fellow Democrats and even some Republicans have said Mr. Romney’s criticism was unseemly and not based in truth.

The Obama administration continued Tuesday to stand behind remarks made over the weekend by Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who asserted that U.S. officials “don’t see, at this point, signs this was a coordinated, premeditated attack.”

Her comments contradicted statements from top Libyan officials who have said the attack in their country was clearly planned by militants.

The question about the level of security at the consulate in Benghazi when the attack took place remains a sensitive one at the State Department.

Last week, Ms. Nuland said Mr. Stevens had traveled to Benghazi “with the normal security precautions that were assigned to him throughout Libya” and that his visit to the city was part of his regular business as ambassador.

“He had lived in Benghazi during the end of the Gadhafi period when — during the liberation of Libya,” Mrs. Nuland said, referring to this previous assignment as the U.S. envoy to the Libyan rebels who overthrew dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

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