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Perhaps his most notorious statement came during a speech in Tehran in October 2005, when he reportedly declared that Israel must be “wiped off the map.”

But he also has tried to portray himself as a defender of the world’s poor, using his speeches to lament a world economic system he says leaves billions in poverty while those in some nations “seek to rule the world, relying on weapons and threats.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government has refused to give U.N. inspectors full access to its nuclear facilities. This fuels widespread speculation that the nation is pursuing a nuclear weapon, something Iranian leaders have vehemently denied.

In response, the U.S. and its allies in June succeeded in pushing through a fourth round of U.N. sanctions - an action that the U.S. and European Union followed up by imposing tougher unilateral sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s financial industry.

Mr. Obama is likely to tout those successes in his speech to the General Assembly, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday on Air Force One.

“I think the president will take this opportunity when he speaks tomorrow to update the American people and update the world on the priorities that we had in coming into office, the progress that we’ve made in Iraq and Afghanistan, the progress we’ve made on nonproliferation, in dealing with threats like North Korea and Iran, and I think a particular focus on the real opportunity that we have to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East,” Mr. Gibbs said.