UNITED NATIONS -- Diplomatic sources at the United Nations tell Newsmax that Iran's controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, intends to address the 2008 General Assembly, which begins Sept. 23 in New York City.
The visit will be Ahamdinejad's fourth since he assumed office in 2005.
Last year's trip was marked by numerous protests around New York City, including a confrontation between the Iranian leader and the president of Columbia University, Lee C. Bollinger. Ahmadinejad was a keynote speaker at the SIPA-World Leaders Forum held at Columbia University.
Bollinger was severely criticized by various political factions and media for giving Ahmadinejad a platform to speak. Bollinger, in his opening remarks, branded the Iranian president as "a petty and cruel dictator." That opened the door for Ahmadinejad to play the wounded victim, calling the Columbia attacks "rude" and "disrespectful."
Jewish leaders tell NewsMax they intend to "welcome" the Iranian in much the same way they did last year.
Aside from the confrontation at Columbia, Ahmadinejad came face to face with a group of Israelis during a press conference at U.N. headquarters. The fiery Iranian was confronted by Karnit Goldwasser, the wife of Israeli soldier Ehud Goldwasser, who was kidnapped by Hezbollah near the Lebanese border in July 2006. It was Goldwasser's capture that provoked Israel's war with Lebanon.
Despite pledges to return the captured soldier, Hezbollah never did. It was widely suspected that Lebanese terrorists reneged on Goldwasser's release because of pressure from Tehran. Not knowing if her husband was alive or dead, Goldwasser pleaded with Ahmadinejad to help her family. The woman was removed by U.N. security officers.
As if to throw down a new gauntlet, speaking at a recent U.N. food conference in Rome, Ahmadinejad spoke of dark days ahead for the Jewish state:
"The European people have been subjected to most of the Zionists' damage, and today the costs of this falsified regime, both the political and the economic, fall on the shoulders of Europe. ... It will happen, whether we are involved in it or not. Israel is doomed to go."
Israeli sources tell Newsmax to expect more confrontations in the Big Apple for 2008.
Ahamdinejad's visit comes as his government's resistance to Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment continues under the threat of new sanctions and repeated promises by Washington and Jerusalem to prevent Iran from developing any nuclear weapons.
But all is not gloom for the Iranian leader. His ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is also making plans to travel to the U.N. in September. Also, the newly elected General Assembly president, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, is a former senior member of the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
Officials at the State Department and on Capitol Hill had no comment on the upcoming Ahmadinejad visit.
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