JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney strongly defended his criticism of the Obama administration after attacks on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya, saying Wednesday that a statement issued by the American Embassy in Cairo amounted to “an apology for American principles.”

Romney on Tuesday night accused the Obama administration of sympathizing with the protesters who attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. At the time of his statement, U.S. officials had confirmed that one American had been killed in Benghazi. Wednesday morning, the White House announced that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

But the embassy statement that Romney was criticizing was issued before the protests in Egypt and before the Benghazi attack. The statement — apparently a response to outrage in Egypt over an anti-Muslim film made in California, excerpts of which are circulating on the Internet — said: “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

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