Unease at Davos; Falling Dollar, Terrorism Loom over Economic Forum
Byline: Andrew Borowiec, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
GENEVA - The rift between the United States and Europe and the fear of a new economic crisis were part of a daunting agenda for the star-studded five-day meeting of the World Economic Forum, which opened yesterday in the Swiss resort of Davos.
There appeared to be little optimism among heads of government, captains of industry and other luminaries of international finance at the forum's 35th annual meeting.
Some 5,500 Swiss soldiers, two for every participant, threw a tight security cloak over the gathering.
French President Jacques Chirac used the event to call for a global tax on airline passengers and on financial transactions to fight AIDS.
The idea is certain to meet strong opposition from the United States, which is the largest contributor to global AIDS-fighting efforts.
Guests for this year's event also include Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Other leaders attending the meeting include South African President Thabo Mbeki, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil.
The United States will be represented by Vice President Dick Cheney.
The assembly, often called an exclusive club of the rich, will analyze a host of issues including complaints of America's dominance of the world, the growing political role of Islam, the changing climate pattern and the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Klaus Schwab, who founded the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum in 1971, hoped that its discussions would influence governments and make the world a better place. As time went by, the problems have become more complex and solutions elusive. …