The US is preparing to mark the ninth anniversary of the attacks on September 11 amid controversies over a planned Islamic centre near Ground Zero and a Florida pastor's plans to burn Qurans. A series of commemorations were planned on Saturday to honour the nearly 3,000 people killed when members of al-Qaeda hijacked four planes, crashing two of them into the World Trade Centre and another into the Pentagon. In New York, the names of the victims who died there were to be read out - as they are every year -at the so-called Ground Zero site, against a background of somber music. Barack Obama, the president, was to attend a memorial service at the Pentagon, while Joseph Biden, the vice-president, was to be in New York. A third service was taking place in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the fourth hijacked airliner crashed into a field. Quran-burning row The events have been overshadowed by a row over the pastor's threat to publicly burn hundreds of Qurans on Saturday to "send a message" on the anniversary. However, on Thursday he offered to scrap the plan if an Islamic centre being built two blocks away from Ground Zero was relocated. Thousands of Muslims in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and the Palestinian territories have taken to the streets to protest against the pastor's threat. On Saturday, thousands rallied in the Afghan provinces of Badakhshan and Logar. Terry Jones, who leads a small congregation of around 50 people, confirmed on Friday that he had "no plans to go ahead with the event" after pleas from Obama, the Vatican and several other world leaders warning of a catastrophe for Western-Muslim relations. "There will be no Quran burning tomorrow," Jones' son, Luke Jones, told reporters outside his father's Gainesville church on Friday. The pastor flew to New York to hold talks with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the planned Manhattan Islamic centre and mosque. Rauf, however, denied both that developers of the project, currently called Park51, had agreed to move the centre and that he was meeting Jones. But he said on Friday that he was open to seeing anyone "seriously committed to pursuing peace". A number of other small congregations and protesters also said they would burn Qurans on Saturday. The US president has warned that the burning of Islam's holy book could provoke al-Qaeda suicide bombings and incite violence around the world. Meanwhile, rival rallies by groups supporting and opposing the Park51 project were scheduled to take place nearby Ground Zero soon after the official ceremonies on Saturday. The site, which is already used for Muslim prayer services, has been closed until Sunday. Police were standing guard outside the block, and worshippers were being redirected to a different prayer room 10 street blocks away. Source: Aljazeera.