Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn’t need to make it to a UN podium to make news after coming to New York for the world body’s General Assembly, telling reporters Israel has “no roots” in the Middle East and that Iran doesn’t take the threat of an Israeli attack seriously.

The comments came a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Ahmadinejad to warn him about the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric “from various countries in the Middle East” and “the grave regional implications of the worsening situation in Syria and underlined the devastating humanitarian impact,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address the full gathering on Wednesday.

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