DAVOS • When asked what he would say to President Donald Trump if he were seated next to him, former US secretary of state John Kerry hemmed and hawed a bit.
Then, Mr Kerry gave a one-word answer: "Resign."
Mr Kerry, the Democratic nominee for the presidency in 2004, made the remark calling for the President to step down while speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday.
The audience of mostly elite business, academic and government leaders from around the world initially laughed at Mr Kerry's comment, and then many clapped and cheered.
Mr Trump was supposed to attend the WEF to deliver an address on Tuesday, but pulled out because of the partial government shutdown that is now the longest in United States history.
"He doesn't take any of this seriously," Mr Kerry said on the panel, adding that he does not think Mr Trump has the ability to have deep conversations.
The White House did not respond to an immediate request for comment, but Mr Trump bashed the media for not understanding him and his approach to Davos.
"Last time I went to Davos, the Fake News said I should not go there. This year, because of the shutdown, I decided not to go, and the Fake News said I should be there. The fact is that the people understand the media better than the media understands them," Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday shortly before Mr Kerry's call to resign.
Last year, Mr Trump received a warm welcome from the global elites at the WEF after legislation slashed business taxes and he scaled back regulations, moves that were heralded as pro-growth by many executives.
But this year, the vast majority of executives are frustrated by Mr Trump's tariffs, which they see as a major threat to the global economy. They are calling on Mr Trump to end the trade war as the world economic slowdown appears to be getting worse.
More than a dozen members of Mr Trump's Cabinet were supposed to be in Davos this year to meet other world leaders and clarify the Trump administration's views on trade and foreign policy, but all of them stayed home because of the partial government shutdown that has left 800,000 workers without pay.