The plan by a small Florida church to burn copies of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks could have a “negative impact” on coalition troops in Afghanistan, says NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “Such actions are strong contradictions with all our values that we stand for and fight for,” he told reporters Tuesday in Washington, D.C. He added, “I strongly condemn that.” Rasmussen’s comments—made just before his meeting with President Obama at the White House—came on the heels of similar remarks by Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, that same day. Petraeus said the plan, which Florida pastor Terry Jones hatched, is “precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses” to turn Afghans against US troops. (See also NPR report)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.