TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to address this month’s U.N. General Assembly meeting, an aide said on Tuesday, in what would be his first trip to the West since his disputed re-election in June.
Ahmadinejad’s attendance of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations headquarters in New York would take place in the same month that Western powers have set as a deadline for Tehran to agree to talks on its nuclear programme.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who has given Iran until September to take up an offer of talks on trade benefits if it shelves nuclear enrichment or face harsher sanctions, will speak at the same U.N. meeting on Sept. 23.
“The president’s trip to New York is still on his agenda and relevant officials here in Tehran are working on the necessary preparations,” Ali-Akbar Javanfekr, Ahmadinejad’s media adviser, told Reuters.
“The date of his arrival there and the length of his visit depend on coordination between Tehran and the United Nations. This is the same for the day of his speech,” he said.
In a speech at the same event last year, Ahmadinejad railed against “Zionist murderers” and vowed to resist American bullying and defend Iran’s right to nuclear power.
Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful power generation, but the West suspects it is aimed at making bombs.
Germany said on Monday it would host high-level talks this week with other members of the six powers which have pushed Iran to negotiate its disputed nuclear programme: the United States, China, France, Britain and Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tehran should realise how “very serious” the September deadline set by Obama is. It is not yet clear if all six countries will insist on the deadline.
Ahmadinejad has already signalled tougher nuclear and foreign policies in his second four-year term, after Iran accused Western countries of inciting opposition protests that erupted after the June presidential poll. His moderate opponents say the election was rigged in the president’s favour, a charge the authorities deny. Western leaders refused to congratulate him on his Aug. 5 inauguration, although Japan, Turkey and others did so.
Four days after the June 12 election, Ahmadinejad attended a regional summit in Russia. But he cancelled a trip to Libya for an African Union summit on July 1.