Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was to leave Tehran for New York on Saturday for the UN General Assembly, where he will deliver his final speech to the world gathering, state television reported.
His speech this year was keenly awaited in the face of Iran’s sharp differences with the UN Security Council over its controversial nuclear programme, and Israeli threats to launch pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Past addresses by Ahmadinejad to the General Asembly — which have included Holocaust denials and conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States — have prompted walk-outs by US and other Western representatives.
Ahmadinejad is expected to make his remarks around Wednesday. UN rules limit speakers to five minutes on the podium.
It will be Ahmadinejad’s last address to the UN’s 193 member states. Next year, he is to step down after serving his second and final term.
Ahmadinejad’s presence in New York for the UN meeting has in the past sparked small protests.
This year another is planned, with an anti-Iran lobby group, United Against Nuclear Iran, urging the Manhattan hotel, where Ahmadinejad and his delegation are staying, to boot out the Iranian leader.