TEHRAN: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left Tehran on Saturday for New York and the U.N. General Assembly, where he will deliver his final speech to the world gathering, Iranian media reported.
His speech this year is keenly awaited in the face of sharp differences with the U.N. Security Council over Iran's controversial nuclear program, and Israeli threats to launch pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Past addresses by Ahmadinejad to the General Assembly -- which have included Holocaust denials and conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States -- have prompted walk-outs by U.S. and other Western representatives.
Ahmadinejad is expected to make his remarks on or around Wednesday. U.N. rules limit speakers to five minutes on the podium.
Before leaving Tehran, the president told reporters he would be stressing issues raised in an Iran-hosted summit of non-aligned nations, particularly on U.N. reform "and solving regional issues, including Syria... putting an end to the violence there."
The news agency ISNA quoted him as saying: "The problem with the world is that those who control international relations seek only their own interests, and they find the independence of others against their interests."
Ahmadinejad said he would also hold bilateral meetings on the assembly's sidelines and give media interviews.
It will be Ahmadinejad's last address to the U.N.'s 193 member states. Next year, he is to step down after serving his second and final term as president.
Ahmadinejad's presence in New York for the U.N. meeting has in the past sparked small protests.
This year another is planned, with the U.S. anti-Iran lobby group United Against Nuclear Iran urging the Manhattan hotel where Ahmadinejad is staying to boot out the Iranian leader.
Ahamdinejad's delegation includes Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and several close aides, among them chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and Vice President Hamid Baqaei.