U.S. criticizes cartoon-fed violence

U.S. President George W. Bush has urged governments to help quell the violence, and his secretary of state began sparring with the Syrian government over the deadly protests sparked by a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

As world leaders and the editor of the paper that first published the cartoons speculated over how the violence escalated to a level that killed at least 10 people in different countries, Condoleezza Rice pointed the finger at Syria and Iran.

"Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes, and the world ought to call them on it," she said at a joint news conference with Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni.

On Thursday, an Iranian vice president denied that Tehran was inflaming Muslim anger over publication of the cartoons, The Associated Press reported.

"That is 100 percent a lie," AP quoted Isfandiar Rahim Mashaee as saying. "It is without attribution."

On Wednesday, the death toll stemming from the violence reached at least 10, as Afghan police shot and killed several of about 600 protesters trying to storm a U.S. military base.

One of the dead in Qalat might be a police officer, eyewitnesses said.

Bush appeared with Jordan's King Abdullah II at the White House on Wednesday, and both men urged leaders in affected nations to step in.

"I call upon the governments around the world to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property and protect the lives of innocent diplomats who are serving their countries overseas," Bush said, referring to the attacks on Danish and other European embassies in several capitals, reports CNN.

I.L.