Report: Iranian president to attend UN General Assembly
Ahmadinejad to stay in New York for two days before heading to Venezuela, Iranian news agency reports
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will arrive in New York on September 24 in order to attend the United Nation's 62nd General Assembly session, the Iranian news agency Fars reported Friday.
According to the report, Ahmadinejad will stay in the city for two days and will be accompanied by a high-level delegation. This will be the Iranian president's third visit to the United States since his election in 2005.
In addition to delivering a speech at the UN General Assembly, Ahmadinejad is also expected to meet with other heads of states and with official Iranian representatives at the UN headquarters and Iranians living in the US.
Ahmadinejad is then expected to head to Venezuela for a meeting with his anti-American ally, President Hugo Chavez.
Last year, the Iranian leader criticized the UN Security Council and slammed its permanent members, the US and Britain, for "committing crimes" in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that therefore the Security Council and the sanctions it imposed on his country over its nuclear plan had no legal validation.
Ahmadinejad is a devout Shiite Muslims, and had felt that he was accompanied by divine supervision during at least one of his previous visits to New York.
Following his first visit on September 2005, he told one of Iran's radical clerics that during his speech at the UN someone had told him that he was "surrounded by a divine halo" and that the attention of all the world's leaders was focused on him.
Ahmadinejad had said at the time, "I also felt that, and I sensed that the atmosphere had suddenly changed and that all the leaders did not even blink for about 27 or 28 minutes, and I'm not exaggerating."
Iran recently released Dr Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian American academic who was arrested while visiting the Islamic republic and accused of espionage. Last week it was reported that another Iranian American, Dr Kian Tajbakhsh, was expected to be freed in the near future.
According to estimates, Tehran is interested in settling its dispute with the US over this matter, in order to allow Ahmadinejad to carry out his visit as planned.
In March, the Iranian president cancelled a scheduled visit to the UN Security Council, claiming that the US had failed to issue on time entry visas for the officials who were to accompany him.