January 28, 2013

Fragile economy, other global woes dominate at Davos

A 'risk of relapse' remains, warns IMF chief Christine Lagarde, even with positive signs on the economic front, at least in emerging markets.

By EDITH M. LEDERER/The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Participants listen to a panel session on the last day of the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday. The annual gathering of the global elite focused this year on how to promote economic growth and jobs, especially for the youth among the world's 220 million jobless.

The Associated Press

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Jordan's King Abdullah II, whose country is hosting almost 300,000 Syrian refugees, predicted that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime will last at least another six months. He called for a transition plan involving all Syrians and the Syrian army.

He also urged stepped up international support to end the Syrian crisis, saying, "The weakest refugees are struggling now just to survive this year's harsh winter."

Abdullah told the forum that "unprecedented threats to regional and global stability and security" need international action now, not the "wait and see" response by some countries – which he did not identify – especially in helping governments emerge politically and financially from the Arab uprisings.

The king, considered one of the region's moderate leaders, also warned Israel to stop playing the "waiting game," and said President Obama's second term offered the last opportunity to create two states – Palestine and Israel – that can live side by side in peace.

Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said the focus on resolving the world's economic crisis has distracted leaders from many other important issues, including education, the social consequences of unemployment and promoting ways to deal with climate change.

Nonetheless, Gurria said, the world should be "very worried" because there aren't many "tools" left to fix the economy if things get worse.

Trevor Manuel, South Africa's National Planning Commission minister, told AP that the key message from Davos for him was a positive one – that "many of the decisions that have been taken bring us closer to where we need to be." He warned that "a sense of an all-pervasive gloom ... frequently becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

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