UNITED NATIONS — "God willing, a new order will come together and we'll do away with everything that distances us," Ahmadinejad said. "Now even elementary school kids throughout the world have understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying."
"Bullying must come to an end. Occupation must come to an end," he said in a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
As for the rising violence in Syria, Obama told the U.N. delegates, "The future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people. If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings. We must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence."
In the AP interview, Ahmadinejad said Iran was one of nearly a dozen countries forming a new contact group to try to end the 18-month-old civil war in Syria. The group would include 10 or 11 countries in the Middle East and elsewhere and meet in New York "very soon," Ahmadinejad said.
Obama's defense of free speech was respectfully received by world leaders. Yet it was clear that different understandings abound on the proper exercise of free expression.
The foreign minister of Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, said Obama's speech was a "clarion call" for all nations to reject intolerance, calling it "an issue that galvanizes all of us." But Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa added that freedom of expression should be exercised with consideration to morality and public order.
Dina Zakaria, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood's political party Freedom and Justice, said cultural differences between the U.S. and the Muslim and Arab world over the limitations of freedom of expression will persist.