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US Urges Peaceful Austerity Protests in Romania


A protester shouts anti-presidential slogans in Piata Universitatii Square, Bucharest, Romania, January 19, 2012.

A protester shouts anti-presidential slogans in Piata Universitatii Square, Bucharest, Romania, January 19, 2012.

The United States has urged Romanians to avoid violence fueled by anger over government spending cuts and other austerity measures.

A State Department spokeswoman says the U.S. supports the right of people to protest and express their views "peacefully." But she called on authorities and protesters to refrain from violence.

Romanians have been holding mass anti-government protests in recent days against the austerity cuts, including a controversial health reform bill. There have been similar protests in Greece.

Protesters have clashed with police in some of the demonstrations.

On Thursday, about 7,000 people attended a rally in Bucharest, which was organized by opposition parties to call for the resignation of the government and President Traian Basescu. Demonstrators voiced their displeasure with losses in jobs and what they perceive as lower pensions.

The spending cuts are required as part of a multi-billion-dollar loan from the World Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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