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Obama on Quran Burning: You "Don't Play Games" With Troop Safety

President Obama called Pastor Terry Jones' plan to burn copies of the Quran a "stunt." AP Photo/John Raoux

President Obama said today that his administration had an obligation to contact Rev. Terry Jones, the Florida pastor planning to hold a Quran burning, because his plans put troops overseas in danger.

"We've got an obligation to send a very clear message this kind of behavior threats of action puts our young men and women in harms way," Mr. Obama said at a White House press conference today.

Jones planned to burn piles of the Muslim holy book to mark the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He announced yesterday that he called off the burning after hearing that the controversial Islamic community center planned to be built near Ground Zero in New York would be moved to a different location. However, he later said he was reconsidering the burning now that it's clear there are no plans to move the Islamic center in New York.

Mr. Obama also said today that he wants to "make sure we don't start having a bunch of folks across the country think this is a way to get attention."

He continued, "This is away of endangering our troops... who are sacrificing for us to keep us safe. You don't play games with that."

Mr. Obama, as well as other leaders like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus, had given public statements in recent days condemning the burning. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates directly called Jones to urge him to call it off.

The president said today, however, "I hardly think we're the ones who elevated this story. But in the age of the Internet [the burning is] something that can cause us profound damage around the world, so we've got to take it seriously."

Mr. Obama noted that the planned Koran burning has already sparked riots and protests in Afghanistan.

The event is "is contrary to what this nation was founded on," the president said. He added he hopes Jones "prays on it and refrains from doing it."

More from the press conference:

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Obama: "Fair" to Say I Haven't Fostered Cooperation in Washington
Obama on Afghan Corruption and the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden
For Obama, Stimulus is a Four-Letter Word
Elizabeth Warren Gets (Vague) Support From Obama
With Key GOP Vote Secured, Obama Urges Senate to Pass Small Biz Bill
Austan Goolsbee Tapped As Top Economic Adviser
Obama: Americans Shouldn't Turn on Each Other
Obama: It's Not Us Vs. Them -- "It's Just Us"
Obama: We've "Fallen Short" on Closing Gitmo

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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