Protests mark Iranian's appearance in N.Y.

Sept. 24, 2007 at 1:05 PM

NEW YORK, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Protests greeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he prepared to speak Monday at Columbia University in New York before addressing the United Nations.

Students, city officials and national officials spoke against Ahmadinejad's appearance as part of the school's forum on world leaders.

Critics said he shouldn't be given a forum to express his views, which include denying the Holocaust and eliminating Israel. Political leaders, such as former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, were on opposite sides. Kissinger said he thought the appearance was offensive; Brzezinski said he didn't believe in censorship, no matter how distasteful the message.

In an interview on CBS' “60 Minutes” Sunday, Ahmadinejad explained why he sought to visit to the World Trade Center Ground Zero site, which was denied by the New York Police Department.

"Usually you go to these sites to pay your respects and also to perhaps air your views about the root causes of such incidents,” Ahmadinejad said.

He also told "60 Minutes" his country wasn't planning to build a nuclear weapon, saying a nuclear bomb is of no use to Iran.

Ahmadinejad is to address the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday.

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