U.S. Senate backs foreign security bill

Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:59 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A bill passed through the U.S. Senate that would divert funds for operations in Iraq to help improve security for embassy staff, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said.

Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of a Senate subcommittee on foreign operations, said Tuesday the Senate passed a measure by a voice vote that would divert as much as $1.1 billion in funds designated for Iraq to embassy security purposes.

"The State Department has done a review, and these funds will be used to expedite construction of Marine security guard posts at overseas facilities, and to build secure embassies," Leahy said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday he would put diplomatic security at the top of his agenda.

Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Clinton, during her last month in office, was questioned in a Senate committee hearing about a deadly September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Kerry said Monday on his first full day in office that he wouldn't let the duties of foreign service officers be "obscured by politics."

"Everything I do will be focused on the security and safety of our people," he said.

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