Iran's president is in New York City for the annual general assembly at the United Nations.
In an interview with the Associated Press, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the future belongs to Iran and that the U.S. must accept Iran has a major role in the world.
He also described the American hiker Sarah Shourds release as humanitarian gesture.
He called on the U.S. to respond by releasing eight Iranians he said are being held illegally.
"I believe that it would not be misplaced to ask the U.S. government to make a humanitarian gesture," President Ahmadinedjad said.
The Iranian President is expected to face strong opposition while in the U.S.
His arrival has already sparked one protest near Central Park Sunday, with more planned throughout the week.