Trump to meet world leaders, business CEOs at Davos forum

Trump speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Jan 18, 2018. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and other world leaders when he attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, White House officials said on Tuesday (Jan 23).

Trump is due to take an overnight flight on Wednesday night to snowbound Davos, where he will encourage investment in the United States and cooperation on national security issues, including the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group and North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Trump will have a full day of meetings in Davos on Thursday and then deliver a keynote address to the forum on Friday before returning to the United States later that day.

White House senior economic adviser Gary Cohn said Trump will use his speech to encourage global companies to invest in the United States and take advantage of Trump's corporate tax cuts.

He will also stress his "America First" policies and seek more reciprocal trade policies from US allies, Cohn said, in keeping with Trump's belief that international trade deals are tilted against the United States.

"The president will continue to promote fair economic competition and will make it clear that there cannot be free and open trade if countries are not held accountable to the rules," Cohn told reporters.

Trump will be the first US president to attend Davos in 20 years, giving him a chance to mingle with the same elite "globalists" that he bashed in his 2016 presidential run.

In addition to meetings with world leaders, Trump will also host a small dinner for European business executives on Thursday night.

"The attendees run companies that have sizeable footprints in the United States. They have invested in our economy, we want them to continue to do so and encourage others to join them," said Cohn.

White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump will meet Britain's May to discuss North Korea, the Syrian civil war and the Iran nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran and which Trump has vowed to abandon unless changes can be made.

Trump and May have had a rocky first year since Trump took power, which included British anger over the US leak of the name of a suicide bomber in Manchester last May.

The two sides have been unable to agree on an appropriate time for Trump to visit Britain. Earlier this month, he pulled out of a potential February trip for the opening of a new US embassy in London.

Trump's meeting with Netanyahu will be his first one since he declared that the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a decision that has strained US ties with some Arab leaders.

McMaster said that in the meeting with Netanyahu, Trump will "reiterate America's strong commitment to Israel and efforts to reduce Iran's influence in the Middle East and ways to achieve lasting peace."

Other meetings include Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who is chairman of the African Union, to discuss trade and security. Trump will also meet with President Alain Berset of Switzerland.

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