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Obama wants Koran burning cancelled

US President Barack Obama has condemned a preacher's plan to stage a burning of the Koran, saying it would be "a recruitment bonanza for al Qaida".

He urged the Rev Terry Jones to "listen to those better angels" and call off his plan.

His plea came as anger grew in the Muslim world with demonstrations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Interpol has issued an alert warning that the burning could trigger violent attacks.

In a television interview, Mr Obama said what Rev Jones proposes "is completely contrary to our values as Americans. This country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance".

Florida Governor Charlie Crist said he would closely monitor what happens on Saturday at the Dove Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, to try to ensure people are safe.

US embassies have been ordered to assess their security by the State Department. Officials fear the burning could spark anti-American violence, including against soldiers.

Mr Crist said: "In addition to being offensive, the Gainesville protest puts at risk those brave Americans who are fighting abroad for the freedoms and values that we believe in as Americans."

Despite the mounting pressure to call off the bonfire, Rev Jones said he has received much encouragement and supporters have sent him copies of the Koran to burn. He said: "As of right now, we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing."

Rev Jones said he had not been contacted by the White House, State Department or Pentagon. He said: "That would cause us to definitely think it over. That's what we're doing now. I don't think a call from them is something we would ignore."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the pastor's plans were outrageous, and along with defence secretary Robert Gates, has urged Rev Jones to cancel the event.

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