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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora