World Economic forum opens in Jordan

The World Economic Forum meeting opened on Saturday in the Jordanian resort of Shuneh, on the shores of the Dead Sea amid tight security.

    Security forces in a Humvee
    guard an intersection in Amman

    About 1,900 world leaders, politicians, businessmen, religious figures and academics are participating in the three day event.


    Half of the participants come from the Middle East.


    The road to Shuneh was sealed since Friday and would remain closed until Tuesday morning, the day after the end of the three-day event, security sources said.


    In Amman, soldiers stood a few yards apart on Zahran Avenue that divides the Jordanian capital from east to west and links it to the road that leads to the Dead Sea.


    Armed troops and armoured vehicles were deployed around five-star hotels in the city.


    “WEF senior managing director Jose Maria Figueres said the forum was “neither a part of the road map nor to pursue that agenda in an explicit way”.


    “But if in some way or form the discussions that take place help the process, so much the better”, Figueres said from Costa Rica, where he was president from 1994 to 1998.


    The event was planned before Palestinian and Israeli top officials agreed on the US-sponsored “road map” on 4 June.


    Bremer represents Iraq


    The conference is attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and EU Foreign Affairs chief Javier Solana.


    Iran, Syria and Lebanon did not send any representatives because Israel is taking part in the forum, diplomatic sources told Aljazeera correspondent.


    Top US civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, is expected to attend the meeting and sit next to an Iraqi flag.


    His delegation would include Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister.


    Both officials “will be given an opportunity to present their viewpoints on what the actual situation is on the ground and how they see the future emerging”, said Figueres.


    The situation in Iraq will be discussed in several sessions, the WEF official explained.


    However, Figueres made it clear that “this is not a conference on the reconstruction of Iraq”.


    US concerned


    The global war on “terrorism” will also be discussed.


    The US State Department issued a draft in May, saying the United States was concerned more about “terrorism” rather than anti-globalisation protests.


    “In a break from the past, the major concern for the Jordan meetings is not demonstrations… (but) the threat of terrorism”, it said in reference to suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco last month.


    Jordan’s King Abd Allah is expected to give a keynote speech, while Annan will address the closing session on Monday.


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