NEW YORK - Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says nearly a dozen countries are forming a new contact group to try to end the 18-month civil war in Syria.

He said in an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday that the group, including countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, would meet in New York "very soon."

He said the group hopes to get government and the opposition to sit across from each other.

Ahmadinejad says, "I will do everything in my power to create stability, peace and understanding in Syria."

Ahmadinejad spoke to the AP in a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly -- his last as president of Iran.