Hollande joining Merkel, Li at Davos next week as world at 'crossroads': WEF

GENEVA (AFP) - World leaders including France's Mr Francois Hollande, Germany's Dr Angela Merkel and China's Mr Li Keqiang will gather at the annual Davos forum next week, seeking to chart a path away from fundamentalism towards solidarity.

"We are in a critical situation, at the crossroads," the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) founder, Mr Klaus Schwab, said on Wednesday.

"We have two roads in front of us, one is the road of disintegration, hate and fundamentalism, the other is the road of solidarity," he said, citing the deadly Islamist attacks in France and the subsequent extraordinary show of solidarity around the world as an illustration.

Discussions at the five-day meeting in Davos will likely touch on the attacks at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Paris kosher supermarket which claimed 17 lives, Mr Schwab said.

But he added that other crises would also be discussed.

"All the crisis regions of the world will be represented," said Mr Schwab.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, who is fighting to put down a deadly separatist rebellion in the east, would be among 40 political leaders at the gathering at the Swiss ski resort.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, who have seen part of their country seized by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants, will also attend.

Another key participant at the forum is US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is a key player in peace talks including those between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as in negotiations with Iran over Teheran's nuclear programme.

Beyond geopolitical crises, hot button issues like the Ebola health crisis, the challenges posed by plunging oil prices, and the future of technology will be examined.

In total, about 2,500 participants, including business leaders like Alibaba group chairman Jack Ma or Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, are set to attend.