GENEVA: British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who holds the presidency of the G8 group of industrialized countries, will head the line-up at the World Economic Forum s meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos next week.
Key topics for the annual meeting of some 2,400 business and political leaders will include climate change, the Middle East and Iraq, the organizers said Wednesday.
Merkel s opening speech on Jan. 24 will provide a taste of Germany s outlook on its leadership of the G8 and of the European Union over the coming six months, the Forum s founder Klaus Schwab said.
The 24 heads of government due in the Swiss Alps also include Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Jordan s King Abdullah II and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora.
Israel s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her predecessor Shimon Peres have also been invited to Forum, where two public debates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have tentatively been scheduled for Jan. 25.
Schwab said he was also trying to promote discussion between some of Iraq s different factions, with vice presidents Adel Abdel Mahdi and Tareq al-Hashimi, and Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih.