News / USA

    Obama Defends Handling of Quran Burning Threat

    President Obama speaking at a White House news conference, 10 Sep 2010
    President Obama speaking at a White House news conference, 10 Sep 2010
    Kent Klein

    U.S. President Barack Obama says his administration was correct in contacting a Christian minister in Florida to persuade him to call off his plan to burn the Quran.  The president held a news conference Friday, also discussing terrorism, Mideast peace prospects and the U.S. economy.

    President Obama defended the decision to have Defense Secretary Robert Gates contact the Reverend Terry Jones, saying Muslim anger over the minister's plan to burn the Islamic holy book has put American service members in jeopardy.

    "We are seeing today riots in Kabul, riots in Afghanistan, that threaten our young men and women in uniform.  And so we have got an obligation to send a very clear message that this kind of behavior or threats of action put our young men and women in harm's way," he said.

    The leader of the small independent church said Thursday he would cancel his protest, because of an agreement by an imam in New York to move a proposed Islamic center and mosque away from the area of the September 11, 2001 attacks.  The imam has said there is no such agreement.

    Watch Dan Robinson's Companion Video Report:

    At Friday's news conference, Mr. Obama repeated his view that construction of the New York mosque should be allowed, because freedom of religion is a basic right in the United States. "If you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site," he said.

    One day before the ninth anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington, Mr. Obama was asked whether he is still focused on capturing al-Qaida leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. "Capturing or killing bin Laden and Zawahiri would be extremely important to our national security.  It does not solve all our problems, but it remains a high priority of this administration," he said.

    The president responded to questions from 13 reporters during the 80-minute session, his first full news conference since May.

    Mr. Obama was asked whether plans are still moving forward to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  He said he regrets missing his January, 2010 deadline for doing so, but remains committed to closing the facility. "One where we have fallen short is closing Guantanamo.  I wanted to close it sooner, but we have missed that deadline.  It is not for lack of trying.  It is because the politics of it are difficult," he said.

    On reports of persistent corruption in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama said progress has been made, but he has repeatedly emphasized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai the need to clean up his government. "The only way that you are going to have a stable government over the long term is if the Afghan people feel that you are looking out for them, and that means that the tradition of corruption in the government is reduced.  And we are going to keep on putting pressure on them on that front," he said.

    The president also said he has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend a partial moratorium on building Jewish settlements in the West Bank, to help advance Mideast peace talks.

    He said both Mr. Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were serious and cordial as the talks recently reopened, but he said they will have to overcome many challenges. "We can facilitate, we can encourage, we can tell them that we will stand behind them in their efforts and are willing to contribute as part of the broader international community in making this work, but ultimately the parties have to make these decisions for themselves," he said.

    Much of the news conference focused on the struggling U.S. economy and the Democratic Party's slumping poll numbers.  Mr. Obama announced no new plans Friday.  But he expressed optimism that voters in the November midterm elections will prefer his economic policies to those of the previous Republican administration.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora