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Americas

Pastor postpones Koran burning, world leaders express concern

media Pakistani Christians burn the effigy of Pastor Terry Jones during a protest … Reuters

The Presidents of Afghanistan and Indonesia have condemned the pastor in the US who plans to burn hundreds of Korans on 11 September, even after he said he would put his plans on hold. Terry Jones, the head of a tiny church in Florida, said Thursday he would cancel his plans if the Ground Zero mosque was relocated.

The pastor “should not even think” of burning the Koran, said Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Friday in a message for the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of Ramadan.

“Insulting the Koran is an insult to nations," he said.

On Thursday Jones said he was putting his plans to burn the Korans on hold, and would cancel them if the mosque and Islamic cultural centre planned to be built near Ground Zero in New York is relocated.

He initially said he would go to New York on Saturday to meet with the imam of the Ground Zero mosque, Feisal Abdul Rauf.

"The American people do not want the mosque there, and, of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran,” he said.

But after Rauf denied there had ever been any agreement to relocate the mosque, Jones said he “would be forced to rethink our decision” regarding the Koran burning.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who wrote to US President Barack Obama saying the Koran burnings would harm attempts to repair relations with the Muslim world, lashed out again on Thursday on TV.

"This threatens peace and international security," he said Thursday in a nationally televised address marking the end of Ramadan.

"I'm of course aware of the reported cancellation of the deplorable act by Terry Jones. However, none of us can be complacent until such a despicable idea is totally extinguished," he said.

Military officials have warned that the Koran burnings would put US military personnel at risk. Obama has described Jones's plan as a "stunt" that would only serve as "a recruitment bonanza for Al-Qaeda."

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