Blinking Jones

Pastor Jones has blinked.

The leader of a tiny church on Thursday backed off his threat to burn the Quran, saying he gave up the plan in exchange for a deal to move a planned Islamic center and mosque away from New York's ground zero. The imam planning the center, however, quickly denied any such deal.

Was it the president's expression of concern, or the FBI meeting?

The Rev. Terry Jones had been under intense pressure to back off, including a statement from President Barack Obama and a personal call from U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Jones made his announcement outside his church alongside Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.

After the news conference, Musri told The Associated Press there was an agreement for him and Jones to travel to New York and meet Saturday — on the actual anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — with the imam overseeing plans to build a mosque near ground zero.

"I told the pastor that I personally believe the mosque should not be there, and I will do everything in my power to make sure it is moved," Musri said. "But there is not any offer from there (New York) that it will be moved. All we have agreed to is a meeting, and I think we would all like to see a peaceful resolution."

Donald Trump, never one to let a good publicity opportunity go to waste, has jumped into the frey.

In a letter to Hisham Elzanaty, an Egyptian-born Long Island businessman and a major investor in the project, Mr. Trump offered to buy his stake for 25% more than Mr. Elzanaty paid for it.

My guess is that the FBI visit must have striked panic into the small-town pastor with the little Florida church.

FBI agents visited Thursday with a minister of a small Florida church that plans to burn the Quran on Sept. 11, as public safety became a paramount concern and President Barack Obama added his voice to the chorus of opposition.

Elsewhere, hundreds of angry Afghans burned an American flag and chanted "Death to the Christians" to protest the planned burning of Islam's holiest text.

This is starting to feel like the Israeli/Palestinian standoff - everybody's enjoying their position so much that making peace isn't one of their options.

Wolodymyr Starosolsky, Mr. Elzanaty's attorney, said his client was insulted by the letter.

"This letter looks like it was written by a publicist rather than by a serious business man," Mr. Starosolsky said in a phone interview from his office, with Mr. Elzanaty present. "It suggests to me that Mr. Trump sees this as an opportunity to reclaim some of the limelight and luster that he has been losing."