2,500 elite gather in Davos for knotty global issues

THE world’s political and business elite gathered for their annual meeting in the glitzy Swiss ski resort of Davos on Wednesday, with the shadow of the Paris attacks and ongoing global conflicts looming large.

French President Francois Hollande and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be among the 2,500 movers and shakers thrashing out the burning issues of the day next to the frozen slopes, exactly two weeks after the deadly attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The bloodshed in France, which left 17 people dead, and efforts by Western countries to prevent returning jihadists planning attacks on home soil will be high on the agenda of the four-day Davos meeting.

Alongside top European and US leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel — whose country foiled an attack plot last week — the topic will be broached at a global level with Iraqi leaders including Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Kurdish leader Massud Barzani.

The raging Ukraine conflict will also to feature high on the agenda, but President Petro Poroshenko looked under pressure to leave the alpine resort early as events in Eastern Ukraine turned sharply for the worse.

“Both terrorism and geopolitics are likely to cast their shadows on this year’s meeting. Both are serious threats to political stability in Europe and in the Middle East and North Africa,” Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at the IHS consultancy group, told AFP.

The deadly Ebola epidemic in west Africa is also under the spotlight, with top experts firing off harsh criticism of the World Health Organisation at a breakfast talk.

“Sending people without experience in the region does not help. We need highly specialists in epidemiology with a lot of experience,” Hans Rosling, an influential professor of infectious diseases, told the panel.

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