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Gaddafi’s son to get WEF invitation

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi

((AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews))

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi can expect an invitation to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum despite reports to the contrary, organisers have told

The French-language newspaper La Liberté reported on Wednesday that Seif al-Islam, a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, had been trying in vain to get an invitation to next month’s event in the Swiss resort of Davos, which brings together business, political and other leaders of society.

Seif al-Islam is widely regarded as a reformist, and has been invited to Davos in the past.

“The World Economic Forum never received an explicit request for an invitation from Seif Al-Islam Gaddafi to attend the annual meeting 2011 in Davos,” WEF founder Klaus Schwab told by email through the organisation’s communications department.

“In fact Seif Al-Islam Gaddafi is on the Forum's invitation list which is being processed.”

Hostage crisis

La Liberté said Schwab had been adamant that no Libyan decision-makers would be invited to Davos until relations between Switzerland and Libya had improved.

However, Schwab told that there was now no problem between the two countries.

“The issue of the Swiss hostages in Libya has been resolved and the Forum has no deliberate policy of excluding Libyans or other nationalities from the annual meeting,” his mail said.

Relations between Switzerland and Libya deteriorated after the brief detention in Geneva in July 2008 of Hannibal Gaddafi, another son of Moammar Gaddafi, on charges of mistreating two servants.

The Libyans took a number of measures in retaliation, including holding two Swiss businessmen hostage, preventing them from leaving the country. The second hostage returned to Switzerland in June 2010 after serving four months in jail.

However, the arbitration panel which is supposed to rule on the legitimacy of Hannibal’s detention, paving the way to full reconciliation, has not yet met.

No complaint

La Liberté reported that the Libyans intended to make an official complaint to the Swiss foreign ministry. But it quoted a ministry spokesman as saying WEF invitations are a private matter decided by the Forum organisers.

The spokesman told swissinfo on Wednesday evening that there had been no intervention from the Libyan side.

In a first response to the story in La Liberté, the WEF told that Seif al-Islam “has not participated in any of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders' activities during the year and therefore does not meet the YGL criteria for an invitation to Davos in 2010”.

The YGL forum brings together “exceptional young leaders” aged under 40, It works in close cooperation with the WEF, and involves its active members in most WEF meetings, research and initiatives.

Seif al-Islam was in Davos in 2009, where he had talks with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey on the sidelines of the conference.

However, there were no Libyan participants in 2010. It is not known whether any requested an invitation.

Seif al-Islam has been seen by many as a possible successor to his father, but he is also frequently reported to be involved in a struggle with his brothers and conservative elements in the Libyan regime. He himself has denied any power struggle with his family.

World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum started life as the European Management Forum in 1971.

Formed by German-born businessman Professor Klaus Schwab, it was designed to connect European business leaders to their counterparts in the United States to find ways of boosting connections and solving problems.

It is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Geneva and is funded by the varying subscription fees of its members.

The forum took its current name in 1987 as it broadened its horizons to provide a platform for finding solutions to international disputes. WEF claims to have helped calm disputes between Turkey and Greece, North and South Korea, East and West Germany and in South Africa during the apartheid regime.

WEF conducts detailed global and country specific reports and conducts other research for its members. It also hosts a number of annual meetings – the flagship being Davos at the beginning of each year.

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