UNITED NATIONS Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told a U.N. General Assembly session on poverty that capitalism was on the verge of death and that it was time for a new economic system.
"The discriminatory order of capitalism and the hegemonic approaches are facing defeat and are getting close to their end," Ahmadinejad said at a summit meeting assessing progress on achieving U.N. goals to drastically reduce poverty by 2015.
"The undemocratic and unjust governance structures of the decision-making bodies in international economic and political fields are the reasons behind most of the plights today humanity is confronting," he said, according to an English translation of his prepared remarks.
Ahmadinejad had drawn large crowds for previous U.N. speeches but Tuesday's address was delivered to a virtually empty hall.
It was unclear whether the unusually low attendance was due to waning interest in Ahmadinejad five years after he first addressed the assembly or if it was the fact that he was one of the first speakers in the morning session, which began at 9 a.m. EDT/1300 GMT.
Ahmadinejad offered no clear alternative to capitalism but said, "The world is in need of an encompassing and, of course, just and humane order in the light of which the rights of all are preserved and peace and security are safeguarded."
Ahmadinejad will address the 192-nation General Assembly again on Thursday during its annual General Debate, in which world leaders traditionally cover issues important to them.
In the past, Ahmadinejad has used the General Debate as a forum to defend Iran's nuclear program and assail its arch foes Israel and the United States, typically prompting walkouts by the United States and some European countries.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau, editing by Bill Trott)