Iran has called for the U.S. and its European allies to ease the sanctions that have hit its critical oil exports and left it blackballed from key international banking networks.
Ahmadinejad said he had no 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 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.
He also claimed never to have heard of Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine who is imprisoned on espionage charges in Iran. Hekmati was arrested while visiting his grandmother in Iran in August 2011, and his family has been using Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York to plead for his release.
Associated Press writers Maria Sanminiatelli and Christopher Chester contributed to this story.