US pastor says he will not burn Koran, "not today, not ever"
The United States pastor who spurred worldwide condemnation with plans to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks told the broadcaster NBC on Saturday that he had abandoned the plan, dpa reported.
"We will definitely not burn the Koran, no," Terry Jones said during the broadcaster's morning television show in New York. "Not today, not ever."
Speculation had been rife earlier that Jones, the previously obscure leader of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, was only postponing the incineration of about 200 copies of the Koran.
Jones had arrived in New York on Friday evening, generating a large police deployment that included one airport terminal being mostly vacated, the broadcaster ABC reported.
Raymond Kelly, the head of New York's police department, told the broadcaster CNN on Saturday that Jones would be closely watched during his stay in New York through Monday because there were concerns about his safety.
It remained unclear why Jones had taken the trip to New York. He told NBC that he would not be meeting with New York Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on Saturday, as he had previously proclaimed.
That statement had come on Thursday as Jones announced that he cancelled the Koran-burning plans in exchange for alleged commitments from Rauf to change the location of the mosque he is planning to build near the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
But Rauf made clear afterwards that he had neither spoken to Jones nor made any such commitments.