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Senate confirms U.S. ambassador to Egypt for State Department post

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[December 17, 2013]  WASHINGTON (Reuters)  The U.S. Senate voted by an overwhelming 78-16 on Monday to confirm Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt and a former ambassador to Pakistan, as assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs.

Patterson became a focus of criticism of U.S. policy in Egypt last summer during demonstrations after the military deposed the country's Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi.

Patterson had said street demonstrations were not the way to bring about change, which some Egyptians interpreted as backing for Mursi and ridiculed her in prominent signs posted around Cairo.

U.S. officials said then that a full reading of Patterson's remarks made clear she was not taking sides in Egyptian politics.

Senate Democrats have been trying to have as many nominees confirmed as possible before Congress ends its work for the year and heads home for the holidays, likely later this week.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Christopher Wilson)

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