Israel's destruction

Bollinger promised to grill the president on subjects such as human rights, Iran's disputed nuclear programme and the Holocaust.

The Iranian leader has previously called the Holocaust "a myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civil nuclear programme, and of fueling violence in Iraq by providing weapons to fighters there, Iran denies the charges.

On Monday morning Ahmadinejad met leaders of a movement called Neturei Karta International.

The Orthodox Jewish group believe that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah and are therefore opposed to the existence of the state of Israel.

'Travesty'

Last week, New York police said that Ahmadinejad had been denied a request to visit the World Trade Center site of the September 11 attacks.

Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, said on Monday that it would have been a travesty for Ahmadinejad to visit the area.

Rice said: "I think it would have been a travesty. This is somebody who is the president of a country that is probably the greatest sponsor, state sponsor, of terrorism."

She said she did not see a way to reach Ahmadinejad but she hoped more moderate elements in Iranian politics would see the futility of Iran's remaining so isolated in the world.

"[The] regime needs to change its behaviour," she said.

In a CBS television interview broadcast on Sunday, Ahmadinejad said that Iran did not need nuclear weapons and his country was not heading for war with the United States.

The president was asked whether Iran and the United States were heading toward conflict over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

He said: "It's wrong to think that Iran and the US are walking toward war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing."