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Star attraction Trump vaunts economic achievements at World Economic Forum

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Trump addressing a plenary session on the opening day of the WEF.

(Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller)

US President Donald Trump has vaunted his economic achievements at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying he has presided over an “undeniable, unprecedented and unmatched” turnaround in the US economy.  

Trump, who is facing an impeachment trial back at home, used his address to talk mainly about the economy and trade with China. In a nod to environmental concerns, he said the US would join a “one trillion trees” initiative being launched in Davos and provide “strong leadership in better managing our trees and forests”. But he also warned against the “perennial prophets of doom”, saying “we will continue to embrace technology, not shun it”. 

"It seems to escape the President that no money can be made on a dead planet - there can be no jobs, no economic growth," said Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan in response to Trump's speech in Davos. "The habit of giving priority to GDP over the well-being of citizens has got to stop."

Opening the forum earlier in the day, Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga urged people not to put the economy ahead of the environment. “The world is on fire,” she told the delegates, in reference to recent wildfires in Australia and the Amazon. “We cannot just stand by and watch.” 

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, also in Davos, told a panel session that the mass mobilisation of young people around the world had put climate change at the top of the agenda, but at the same time “pretty much nothing has been done" in terms of tackling it.  

"The science and voice of young people is not the centre of the conversation, but it needs to be," said Thunberg 

Trump's agenda

Landing at Zurich Airport shortly before 8:30am, Trump immediately boarded a helicopter and flew to Davos. The chopper taking his delegation landed a little before 10am in Davos, in the eastern canton of Graubünden.  

A meeting with Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga is scheduled for the afternoon. The US president is expected to stay in Switzerland until Wednesday. Talks are planned with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Iraqi President Barham Salih. 

However, no meetings will be held with Iranian officials, as they have decided not to come to Davos. Relations between Iran and the United States are strained following the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq by US forces.  

In a tweet broadcast shortly before his arrival in Switzerland, Trump said he was going to Davos to bring back billions of dollars to the US. 

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