Iranian President Ahmadinejad Challenges Presidential Candidates to a Debate

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Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad challenged the U.S. presidential candidates to a debate when he is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly next week, Agence France Presse reported Thursday.

The Iranian leader also dismissed Western threats over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

"I am ready for a debate with the U.S. presidential candidates over global issues in the presence of the media at the U.N. headquarters,” Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran. "I have no plans in my schedule to meet with U.S. politicians.”

The outspoken president caused a storm of controversy during a visit last year to Columbia University.

"Last year, I said I was ready to meet with [President George W.] Bush. But now he is at the end of his term and [a meeting] will not impact our relations and future," Ahmadinejad told AFP.

John McCain has blasted Democrat rival Barack Obama for offering to negotiate with leaders of other countries with whom the U.S. has strained relations.

In the past, Ahmadinejad has come under fire worldwide for his comments on the destruction of Israel, his "suspicions" of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and his belief that homosexuals deserve to be executed and/or tortured.

Click here to read the AFP report.