By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is set to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos next week, but Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has canceled, organizers of the gathering of political and business leaders said.
The United States killed Iran’s most powerful military commander in a drone strike this month after tit-for-tat exchanges between Washington and Tehran that began with the killing of an American contractor on a base in Iraq.
Although Trump attended the WEF event held in the Swiss mountain resort in 2018, he did not participate last year and his return comes amid moves for him to face impeachment charges.
Iran’s Zarif, who had been scheduled to attend, is no longer on the list of nearly 3,000 people due at the event, which is being held under the banner “Stakeholders for a Sustainable and Cohesive World”.
“We have to understand the cancellation from Iran foreign minister Zarif against the backdrop of uncertainty in the region and what is unfolding in Iran,” Borge Brende, WEF president, said at a news conference on Tuesday ahead of the 50th anniversary meeting.
No other Iranian officials are on the WEF list of attendees, which includes the presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some 53 heads of state are due to make the trip into the Alps, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, as well as 35 finance ministers and some 30 trade ministers, WEF organizers said.
Other attendees include U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, while Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are also on the U.S. delegation, the WEF list of participants showed.
Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist who has sparked the #FridaysforFuture global protest movement, will return to Davos for the second year and participate in a session on ‘Averting a Climate Apocalypse”.
“The world is in a state of emergency and the window to act is closing fast,” Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman told reporters, adding that a public private initiative will be launched at Davos with the aim of “planting 1 trillion trees by the end of this decade”.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Michael Shields and Alexander Smith)