US defence secretary calls Florida pastor (Lead)September 10th, 2010 - 5:55 am ICT by IANS
Washington, Sep 10 (DPA) US Defence Secretary Robert Gates Thursday called the Florida pastor at the centre of global controversy over plans to burn Korans and apparently helped persuade him to change his mind, according to a Florida imam who has mediated the conflict.
Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida told CNN that he was in the small Gainesville, Florida church meeting with the pastor, Terry Jones, when the call came in about 4.15 pm.
Shortly thereafter, Jones announced he would abandon his plans to burn Korans Saturday to protest Islamic extremism and the construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center in New York City.
Jones and Musri told reporters that they planned to fly to New York Saturday to meet New York Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim leader who was planning to build the mosque and Islamic cultural centre.
But in the CNN interview, Musri conceded that he had not yet bought tickets and had only spoken with Rauf’s wife, not Rauf himself, to arrange the meeting.
Jones claimed that Rauf had agreed to relocate the mosque further away from Ground Zero, and had thus cancelled the burning plans.
In a statement to broadcasters, Rauf welcomed Jones’ decision “not to burn any Korans”. But he said he had “not spoken to pastor Jones … nor are we going to barter”.
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