Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he would have fond memories of his annual trips to New York, as he wrapped up his last trip to the Big Apple as his country's leader, AFP reports.
His only regret was he did not have much chance to mingle with ordinary New Yorkers, he told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, praising the people as having a "great spirit" and "high moral standards."
"My visits to New York have all been good. Thankfully during the last few years. Unfortunately I did not have many chances to really interact and see the people of the city," he said through a translator.
"But with some of the popular organizations... some of the university scholars, some of the managers of the media groups, some of the think tanks... we have had very enjoyable meetings," he added.
"And they're all fond memories."
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations for decades, and Ahmadinejad has only been able to travel to the country for the annual UN assembly during his presidency.
Iranians will go to the polls on June 14 next year to elect a successor to Ahmadinejad, who is in his second and final term.
The last presidential election in 2009, which saw Ahmadinejad declared the winner over allegations by his challengers of fraud, was followed by widespread protests that were brutally crushed by authorities.
But Ahmadinejad made no reference to his last election, or to the protests that followed. Instead, he insisted on the good in human nature.
"The world over people are kind and loving. People are made of the same fabric and they're all good in nature. They support purity, justice and fairness."
He said he also wanted to "thank the people of New York ... normally during these visits we do apologize at the end of the visit for the disturbances we create for the people of the city. We thank the security forces, and the police department."
"We are certain that due to their great spirit and high moral standards they will forgive this continued yearly imposition."