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Davos prepares for parade of world powers

Iranian President and Israeli Prime Minister will both speak at the gathering.

The World Economic Forum's meeting is held in Davos, Switzerland, every January. Picture: World Economic Forum/swiss-image.ch

GENEVA - The annual Davos gathering, which draws thousands of the world's most powerful people, will this year welcome more than 40 heads of state and government to focus on questions about the world's future, organisers said on Wednesday.

Among the participants at this year's event, which runs from 22 to 25 January, are British Prime Minister David Cameron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and presidents including South Korea's Park Geun-hye, Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich, Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto and Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will both be speaking and it would be logistically possible for an encounter between the two leaders whose countries are traditional foes.

Central bankers Mark Carney, Mario Draghi and Haruhiko Kuroda and US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew are also taking part, as well as IMF chief Christine Lagarde and World Bank boss Jim Yong Kim.

The 2,500 participants include the heads of all major international organisations and more than half the chief executives of the 1,000 largest companies, including Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent.

More high-level guests are expected to be announced in the next few days. Others who could drop by include US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will be attending the opening of Syrian peace talks in Montreux, at the other end of Switzerland, on 22 January.

DISRUPTORS

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will be the only head of state from the BRIC nations to attend. India is sending a delegation including Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, while Russia will be represented by its finance minister and two deputy prime ministers.

China is sending Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chairman of its National Development and Reform Commission, but Klaus Schwab, who heads the World Economic Forum that runs the event, said there would be a 'senior leader' from China who was not yet on the published guest list.

Rousseff's opponents in Brazil's October election will not be present. Also missing from the line-up are new Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen, and previous Davos fixtures such as Angela Merkel and Rupert Murdoch.

Schwab likes to include 'disruptors' in the guest list - including Internet entrepreneurs and activists - and will give the participants a chance to experience the rougher side of life in a mock-up refugee camp in the Alpine resort, as well as a special simulation of life as a Syrian refugee in Jordan.

But Davos will not have representatives of some of the past year's biggest disruptors, such as Edward Snowden, Julian Assange or Pussy Riot, nor has Russia's newly-freed ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky been invited.

Click here for a special feature on this year's World Economic Forum in Davos.

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