Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says the situation in his country is "not as dire" as portrayed by his critics.

The state-run newspaper The Herald Thursday says Mr. Mugabe made the comments to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday at U.N. headquarters in New York.

In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday, Mr. Mugabe accused the United States and Britain of a relentless campaign to destabilize Zimbabwe. He said Zimbabwe will not allow regime change by outsiders.

Zimbabwe has endured years of economic decline that has culminated in food shortages and an annual inflation rate officially pegged at more than 6,000 percent.

Britain, the U.S. and other nations have strongly criticized the government for its economic policies as well as a crackdown on opposition leaders, alleged election fraud, and a massive eviction of slum dwellers in 2005.

The 83-year-old Mr. Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since the country won independence from Britain in 1980.