White House mulling call to Florida pastor
The White House and Pentagon are considering the possibility of directly contacting a Florida pastor to persuade him to abandon plans to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday, dpa reported.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said a phone call to pastor Terry Jones is being discussed, but he did not say whether President Barack Obama would be making the call.
"There are discussions inside of the government about the possibility of doing that. I don't know that a final decision has been reached on that," Gibbs said.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said a similar discussion is underway in the Pentagon even though he acknowledged it could set a bad precedent.
"We do open the door to the possibility that there are other extremists out there who all they want is a call from so-and-so to be talked off the ledge," he said.
"But we may now find ourselves in a situation where we believe the risk to our forces outweighs the potential bad precedent or slippery slope that's set by a phone call such as this," he added.
US officials have strongly condemned as an outrage plans by Jones and his Dove World Outreach Centre church in Gainesville, Florida, to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
They warn that it could fuel Islamic extremism around the world and place US troops in greater danger. Jones has said he has taken the public criticism under consideration but will proceed with the burning. Gainsville city officials have refused to grant Jones a permit required for a public bonfire.
Meanwhile, Gibbs directed come criticism at the media for the saturation coverage Jones has received.
"This is a desperate man seeking the attention of the better part of the world. I think we would all be served, for the safety of ourselves and for those that protect us each day, to cover something besides him every hour on the hour," Gibbs said.
Morrell expressed similar sentiment, calling the media coverage "extraordinary."