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Romney: Middle East 'needs' US leadership

Published on Sep 14, 2012 6:21 AM
US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia, on September 13, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

FAIRFAX, Virginia (AFP) - Republican nominee Mitt Romney paid tribute on Thursday to four American diplomats killed in Libya, and while he steered clear of President Barack Obama's handling of the crisis he said United States (US) power was vital in the Middle East.

Romney sparked a furore late on Tuesday and Wednesday when he offered quick and blunt criticism of steps the Obama administration took to try and tamp down a rapidly escalating protest in Cairo, Egypt, amid swirling regional violence that ended up claiming the life of the US ambassador to Libya.

"I know that we have heavy hearts across America today," Mr Romney said while campaigning in swing state Virginia, near the US capital.

"We've lost four of our diplomats across the world, we're thinking about their families and those that they've left behind." But while calling the deaths "a tragedy," Mr Romney did not repeat some of his earlier accusations that the Obama administration was apologising for American values and sympathising with the protesters.

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