WASHINGTON, Sept 21: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminded host governments on Friday of their “solemn duty” to protect diplomatic missions, as a wave of anti-American unrest gripped the Muslim world.

US President Barack Obama also emphasised this point in a television interview recorded earlier, saying: “The message we have to send to the Muslim world is that we expect you to work with us, to keep our people safe.”

But Secretary Clinton raised this issue in her discussions with Pakistani and Tunisian foreign ministers as well, who assured her that their governments were committed to protecting all diplomatic missions and their staff.

“As I have said before and as is embodied in the Vienna Convention and other international agreements, all governments have the duty, the solemn duty, to defend diplomatic missions,” Secretary Clinton said. “They must be safe and protected places.”

At a joint news briefing with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Secretary Clinton thanked Pakistan for taking appropriate steps for protecting US missions and Americans living in the country but said she wanted to make it clear that “the violence we have seen cannot be tolerated … there’s no justification for it”.

She said that the video that caused the protests was “offensive, disgusting and reprehensible” and the US government never shied away from condemning such acts.

Mrs Clinton urged Muslim governments and responsible individuals to speak up against those who were exploiting the situation to instigate violence.

Foreign Minister Khar noted that this “very strong condemnation” of a combination of blasphemous video and consequent violence had made it clear that the US government was not behind any other in rejecting this development.

This condemnation, she noted, would go a long way in bringing the situation under control.

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