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Donald Trump to headline Davos summit as Iran drops out

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GENEVA: US President Donald Trump will be the star attraction at this year’s Davos forum, which will also focus on the fallout of climate change and a more inclusive model of capitalism, organisers said Tuesday.

The annual gathering of global movers and shakers in the village of Davos in the Swiss Alps will draw a total of 53 heads of government and state for four days starting on January 21.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who had been due to attend, cancelled his visit amid a spike in global tensions following a US drone strike that killed Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani.

The 50th edition of the Davos Forum will have more than 2,800 participants, including Swedish teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg, who will renew her call on attendees to stop subsidising fossil fuels.

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“We demand that leaders play their part in putting an end to this madness,” the 17-year-old, who is also due to take part in protests outside the summit, wrote in The Guardian.

The World Economic Forum, which organises the summit, said other participants will include Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump will be accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and her husband and top presidential adviser Jared Kushner, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

– Zarif not coming –

The situation in the Middle East will be a key focus for the summit.

Soleimani’s killing near Baghdad international airport on January 3 has sparked fears of conflict between Iran and the US.

Iran has also been shaken by demonstrations after admitting it “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet a few hours after a retaliatory missile strike against US bases in Iraq.

“I think we have to understand the cancellation from the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif against the backdrop of the uncertainty in the region and what is unfolding in Iran,” WEF president Borge Brende said.

But Brende said other key figures will be present, including Iraqi President Barham Saleh and the president of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani.

Notable absentees include British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is busy finalising Britain’s departure from the European Union at the end of this month after a drawn-out political crisis.

But Prince Charles, who is trying to mend frayed relations within the royal family over his son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan’s shock decision to give up on high-profile royal duties, will be there.—AFP

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