U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday in an exclusive interview with Agencia Efe, Spain's international news agency, that he expects more anti-U.S. protests in the Middle East in the coming days, but he added that "the United States can't withdraw from the region."

"My expectation is that we will continue to see protests over the course of the next few days but what I want to emphasize is that our diplomats are in harm's way every day in many of these posts but they do outstanding heroic work," the president said.

The United States "can't withdraw from the region, that would hurt our safety and our security, and so we will continue to do what we've always done which is to work with those countries on issues of national security and issues of common interest," Mr. Obama added.

During the interview, which the president granted after holding a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, he also emphasized that he had sent "a very clear message" to leaders in the Middle East that the United States expects them to "protect our embassies."

"What we've done is to not only strengthen our security around the region, but I've also sent a very clear message to the leaders in the region, saying that we expect them to protect our embassies, to protect our consulates."

Mr. Obama insisted that he expects the governments in the region to cooperate "fully" with Washington.

He added that "to the Libyan government in particular, I expect them to work with us to bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice," alluding to the Tuesday attack in Benghazi that took the lives of U.S. envoy Christopher Stevens and several others.

"We'll be clear in our voice for individual rights and freedoms and we will continue to make sure that our presence in the region is constructive," the president said. EFE