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WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai blasted the recent burning of a Quran at a Florida church and the deadly riots that followed during a video teleconference meeting on Wednesday (April 6).

Both leaders “deplored” the desecration of the Muslim holy book and condemned the subsequent April 1 attack on a U.N. compound, the White House said in a statement. Both men also “expressed deep regret for the tragic loss of life.”

At least two dozen people have been killed since protests broke out after Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., oversaw the burning of a Quran in a mock trial on March 20. Twelve people were killed in the attack at the compound in Mazar-e-Sharif, including seven U.N. staffers.

“The two presidents were clear that to attack and kill innocent people is an affront to human decency and dignity,” the White House said. “Both leaders agreed that now is a time for our two nations to come together, in the pursuit of common values and common goals.”

Karzai has been criticized for drawing attention to the Quran burning, which initially received scant attention in the United States.

As of Thursday, some Afghan protests continued, including several days of rallies at Kabul University.

– ADELLE M. BANKS, Religion News Service

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