(AP) NEW YORK - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that a new world order needs to emerge, away from years of American "bullying" and domination.
Ahmadinejad spoke to The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly - his last as president of Iran.
He also discussed solutions for Syria, dismissed the question of Iran's nuclear ambition and claimed that despite Western sanctions his country is better off than it was when he took office in 2005.
"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. They command from behind the microphone. They command and impose their wills on how things should be done. I do believe the system of empires has reached the end of the road. The world can no longer see an emperor commanding it."
"Bullying must come to an end. Occupation must come to an end," he added.
(In an interview to air Wednesday on "CBS This Morning," Ahmadinejad spoke to Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell about the threat of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, and how his country would respond. Watch a preview from that interview below.)
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.
He said the group hopes to get government and the opposition to sit across from each other.
Activists say nearly 30,000 people have died in the Syrian uprising that began in the March 2011.
Earlier this month, Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi announced the formation of a four-member contact group with Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia so far has not participated.
It was unclear how Ahmadinejad's contact group would combine with the earlier effort by Morsi or mediating efforts of international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
He announced it ahead of a Friday meeting of key countries in the so-called Friends of Syria group, which supports the opposition and is planning for a transition after the departure of President Bashar Assad.
"I will do everything in my power to create stability, peace and understanding in Syria," Ahmadinejad said.
He denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of Robert Levinson, a private investigator and former FBI agent who vanished in Iran five years ago. He said he directed Iranian and intelligence services two years ago to work with their counterparts in the U.S. to locate him.
"And if any help there is that I can bring to bear, I would be happy to do so," he said.
(In an interview below with " ," Ahmadinejad drops a clue about Robert Levinson, ex-FBI agent who vanished 5 years ago in Iran.)