WEF to focus on Syria, Iran

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iol newsp ic jan15 Switzerland Davos Forum AP German Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum, WEF, gestures during a press conference, in Cologny near Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron)

Cologny, Switzerland - Iran's nuclear aspirations and the Syrian conflict are set to take a prominent place among topics discussed at the upcoming World Economic Forum, as suggested by the guest list of leaders for the event publicized on Wednesday.

The annual conference, which draws chief executives of the world's biggest companies and 40 heads of state and government, has been set for January 22-25 in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

The timing is significant for talks on Syria: A peace conference is also set for next week in the Swiss cities of Montreux and Geneva. Foreign ministers of key countries - such as Egypt, France, Jordan and Turkey -attending the peace talks in Montreux will also participate in Davos, organizers said at the WEF headquarters in Cologny near Geneva.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as Syrian opposition leader George Sabra, are also expected to shuttle between the two events. Iranian President Hassan Rowhani and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the key opponents in the stand-off over Tehran's nuclear programme, have also confirmed their attendance in Davos.

It would be the first time that acting heads of state or government from both countries attend a Davos meeting at the same time. Iran and six world powers have agreed to start implementing the Geneva treaty, which foresees curbs on the Iranian nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

However, the forum's founder, Klaus Schwab, said he does not want business leaders and politicians to focus only on current crises, but on solutions to fundamental problems such as economic inequality, conflict between generations and technological change

“What we want to do in Davos this year is to push the reset button,” Schwab said.

“The world is still much too much in a crisis management mode.”

The World Bank on Wednesday projected global growth for 2014 at 3.2 per cent, up from the 2.4 per cent in 2013. Growth was expected to reach 3.4 per cent in 2015 and 3.5 per cent in 2016. Economic policy debates in Davos are set to feature government leaders from major developed economies, like Britain's David Cameron, Italy's Enrico Letta and Japan's Shinzo Abe. Germany's Angela Merkel, who is recovering from a Nordic skiing accident, will not attend this year.

Leaders from emerging countries also take up a large share on the Davos guest list. They include Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and South Afrian Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Sapa-dpa


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