On a day of dramatic twists and turns, US pastor Terry Jones announced that he has no plans to go ahead with his earlier decision to burn the holy Quran and said he still expects the planned mosque near Ground Zero to be moved as part of a "deal" with a Florida imam.
Pastor Terry Jones made the announcement that he has decided not to burn Quran during a television programme on Friday, hours after he said he was "rethinking" his earlier plans to call off the proposed act. "Right now we have plans not to do it (burning of the Quran)," Pastor Jones of Florida, told ABC's Good Morning America.
"We believe that the imam will keep his word. We believe that proposal is still good," he said, referring to a "deal" he has clinched with a Florida imam. He said the deal was cancelling the burning of Quran in exchange for abandoning plans to put an Islamic community center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks.
However, Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said the "deal" exists only in Jones' mind. But, Jones insisted: "He (the imam) gave us the proposal that they would move the mosque from the Ground Zero location."
"The Muslims do not want us to burn the Quran. Americans do not want the mosque near the Ground Zero place. And we made the proposal on the radio, which he heard, that if they were willing to move the mosque from the Ground Zero location, we would be willing to cancel our event. He came back to me with that proposal," he said.
The imam said he does not have any control over the mosque in New York. He said Jones had "stretched and exaggerated my statements."
"I told him, I'm willing to make contact, as an imam, to the imam in New York ... and ask on his behalf to schedule a meeting. And I told him, I will invite you with me." The imam said he beileved that "it is the right thing" to move the proposed New York Islamic center from its present location.
The pastor's threat to burn copies of the holy Quran had stirred outrage in Islamic world, with Kings and Presidents of Muslim nations joining hands to condemn his plans and asking US President Barack Obama to intervene to stop it.
Obama, on his part, said, the pastor's move could lead to "recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda." In his Eid greetings, Obama said this year's Eid is also an occasion to reflect on the importance of religious tolerance and to recognise the positive role that religious communities of all faiths, including Muslims, have played in American life.
Non-Muslim nations have also condemned the pastor's plans.