Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday condemned plans by a Florida pastor to burn copies of the Koran, saying that it was a Zionist plot that would bring about Israel's annihilation, Iran's Press TV reported.
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Speaking at a meeting between Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior Iranian officials in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said that "the Zionists and their supporters are on the path to collapse and decline and such desperate actions will not save them, but will accelerate their fall and annihilation."
The Iranian president added that burning the Koran would be a violation of the teachings of all religions.
Florida pastor Terry Jones announced his intention to burn copies of the Muslim holy book on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York City and Washington, sparking a global media storm.
It is not clear whether he will carry out his professed plan, as he declared that the plan had been scrapped earlier on Friday, but then announced that he had reconsidered and would go ahead with the burning. He explained that a N.Y.C. imam behind the plan to build an Islamic center near the site of the September 11 World Trade Center attack had agreed to nix the plan in exchange for the cancellation of the Koran burning, only to claim later that the imam had lied to him.
The imam denied ever having made any kind of deal with pastor Jones.
"I am prepared to consider meeting with anyone who is seriously committed to pursuing peace," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said in a prepared statement. "We have no such meeting planned at this time. Our plans for the community center have not changed. With the solemn day of September 11 upon us, I encourage everyone to take time for prayer and reflection."
Shortly after Rauf made his statement, Jones and a fellow Christian preacher, K.A. Paul, of Texas, spoke to reporters briefly in Gainesville, Florida. They did not appear to be aware of Rauf's remarks. Paul said that they were waiting to hear from Rauf directly and that they were issuing him a challenge on whether a decision has been made to move the New York mosque project.
Jones and Paul did not say what would happen if they did not hear from Rauf.
On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also blamed "Zionists" for the pastor's plans, and warned that followers of other religions, not just Islam, would retaliate against the book burning.