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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Iran leader plays down 'US war'
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The president's visit to the US has caused controversy
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran is not heading for armed conflict with the United States.

In an interview with US TV network CBS, he said Iran was not on a path of war with the US and that Iran had no need of nuclear weapons.

Protests have been held outside Columbia University in New York, where Mr Ahmadinejad is due to speak later.

The US is leading moves to impose further sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear development programme.

Many Americans think Mr Ahmadinejad should not have been invited to speak at Columbia - but tickets to the event were snatched up within an hour of becoming available.

In political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the university on Sunday with placards saying: "Don't give a platform to hate," and calling Mr Ahmadinejad a "Hitler wannabe".

Mr Ahmadinejad has called in the past for an end to the Israeli state and described the Holocaust as a myth.

Columbia's president Lee Bollinger defended the decision to invite Mr Ahmadinejad, saying the university was "committed to confronting ideas", AFP news agency reported.

'No need' for bomb

In his CBS interview, conducted in Tehran last week, Mr Ahmadinejad said: "It's wrong to think that Iran and the US are walking towards war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing."

He also denied Iran had nuclear arms ambitions.

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"You have to appreciate we don't need a nuclear bomb. We don't need that. What need do we have for a bomb?" Mr Ahmadinejad asked.

"In political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use."

Mr Ahmadinejad's comments follow a warning on Saturday that anybody who attacked Iran would experience nothing but regret, although he said Iran's forces were just for defence.

He is due to address the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday - his third address to the assembly in as many years.

The president had wanted to lay a wreath at Ground Zero during his visit, but the New York authorities refused that request on security grounds.

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