In his final address to the UN General Assembly, U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday spoke of the importance of multinational diplomacy.

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U.S. President George W. Bush addresses the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. ((Julie Jacobson/Associated Press))

Bush, who has often criticized the UN over the past seven years, calling the UN costly and indecisive in the face of serious world problems, used his final speech to the assembly to say multinational organizations are "needed more than ever" to combat terrorists and extremists who are threatening world order.

"As the 21st century unfolds, some may be tempted to assume the threat has receded," he said. "This would be comforting, but it would be wrong."

He urged the international community to stand firm against the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran and he scolded Russia for invading neighbouring Georgia.

Despite past disagreements over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, members of the UN must unite to help the struggling democracy succeed, he said.

The United Nations and other multilateral organizations should focus less on bureaucracy and more on results, he said.

Also speaking at the UN on Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Russia's war with Georgia was an unacceptable means of settling disputes and warned Moscow it could not compromise independent states' territorial integrity.

"Europe is also telling Russia … it cannot compromise on the principle of states' sovereignty and independence, their territorial integrity, or respect for international law," Sarkozy said.

"Europe's message to all states is that it cannot accept the use of force to settle a dispute."

Sarkozy is calling for a summit of world leaders by the end of the year to address the global financial crisis.

He also wants the G8 group of leading industrialized nations to be expanded to include China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil.

The globalized economy needs new institutions that can regulate it, he said.

Also on the list of speakers for Tuesday was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad told National Public Radio in the U.S. in an interview to be broadcast on Tuesday that he is not interested in having a confrontation with the U.S. and would like diplomatic relations to improve between the two countries.

"We do not have confrontations with anyone," he said. "The U.S. administration interferes, and we defend ourselves."

Ahmadinejad, however, said at a military parade on Sunday that Iran would defend itself were any country to attack its nuclear facilities.

"If anyone allows himself to commit even a tiny offence against Iran's legitimate interests, borders and sacred land, our armed forces will break his hand before he pulls the trigger," he said.

With files from the Associated Press