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Abe, Rousseff to Visit Davos as Leaders Debate Post-Crisis World

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, speaks during an interview in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Photographer: Junko Kimura/Bloomberg

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will be among the speakers at the World Economic Forum next week as leaders discuss topics including how to sustain the global recovery.

The event, held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, will take place from Jan. 22 to 25 under the theme “The Reshaping of the World,” with more than 40 heads of state or government in attendance. Topics will range from climate change and the future of health care to economic growth and youth unemployment, the Forum told reporters in Geneva today.

On hand to tackle topics such as the legacy of Europe’s debt crisis will be European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, as well as International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

“This year will be different to last year because it will not be overshadowed by any single crisis,” said Klaus Schwab, founder of the Forum. “Confidence is slowly coming back. But we also have diminished expectations. We all know we still need to deleverage. It’s like running with a heaving backpack on your shoulders.”

Global Agenda

Widening income disparities, Asia’s expanding middle class and the growing importance of megacities are among the top ten trends facing the global economy, according to the Forum, which meets for the 44th time this year.

Reflecting the Forum’s aim to tackle global questions, the co-chairs of this year’s meeting are Marissa Mayer, chief executive officer of Yahoo! Inc., Jiang Jianqing, chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Novartis AG CEO Joseph Jimenez. About 2,500 attendees from 100 countries are expected.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and his Australian and Italian counterparts Tony Abbot and Enrico Letta will be addressing the meeting, as will be the presidents of Mexico and South Korea, Enrique Pena Nieto and Park Geun Hye, according to Schwab.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who just started her third term in office after winning re-election thanks to her handling of the debt crisis, won’t be attending this year, he said.

Mideast Politics

In attendance will also be both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, whose country last year agreed to curtail its nuclear activities, breaking a decade-long diplomatic stalemate. Iran won an easing of sanctions in return.

The appearance of Rouhani, who led the diplomatic negotiations, is the first time in a decade that a sitting Iranian president has attended, the Forum said. The dispute over the purpose of Iran’s program deepened sectarian rifts in the Middle East, sparked threats of military action by the U.S. and Israel, and raised concerns that the oil-rich region was heading for a nuclear arms race.

“It’s coming at a crucial time at his mandate,” said Miroslav Dusek, Head of Middle East and North Africa at the Forum. Rouhani will be there to discuss “the place of Iran in the world, also his view on the relationship with the rest of the world,” Dusek said, adding he wasn’t aware of any meeting between Rouhani and Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is among the most outspoken critics of the nuclear accord and has called Rouhani a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The Israeli premier has said that only the complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program would be acceptable.

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