The Latest: At Davos, Soros blasts Trump's 'fear mongering'

The latest developments from the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where top executives and world leaders are gathered this week. All times local.

10:55 p.m.

Philanthropist George Soros says he believes Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump doesn't have "any chance of being elected."

Soros, who was speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos, said Trump is doing the work of the Islamic State group by "fear mongering."

Soros said the popularity of Trump will lead to a "landslide" for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, saying she is "campaigning for the general elections and the Republicans are fighting in the primary.


10:35 p.m.

The United States says it will no longer oppose lending to Argentina from multilateral banks.

The U.S. Treasury statement follows a meeting between U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and Argentine Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.

It says the policy change was prompted by the Argentine government's "progress on key issues and positive economic policy trajectory."

Argentina is in the process of renegotiating about $10 billion of unpaid debt to US hedge funds that refused to give it debt relief at restructurings in 2005 an 2010.

Market-friendly Mauricio Macri took office as Argentine president in January, replacing Cristina Fernandez, who frequently clashed with Washington.


9:15 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden saw something surprising at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri asked political rival Sergio Massa to join him and Biden in a photo during a meeting Thursday. Massa ran against Macri in last year's presidential election.

Biden commented, "I want the American press to observe something. The new president brought a member of the opposition with him. That's what we've got to do at home."

Biden had a day packed with diplomatic meetings in Davos on Thursday, including talks with leaders of Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Cyprus.


8:15 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is working on ways to boost the economy beyond a previously planned $10 billion deficit.

Speaking Thursday to The Associated Press at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Trudeau said, "We will do what needs to be done." He didn't elaborate.

The drop in oil prices has hit Canada's economy hard, and the Canadian dollar is diving too. Trudeau has vowed to spend billions on infrastructure in an effort to stimulate the economy in a budget being announced in the coming weeks.

Trudeau also said Canada is "committed to continuing" in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State extremists, even though there Canada is pulling out warplanes. Speaking to young entrepreneurs in Davos, he said, "Yes there's a need for ... military engagement."

He also described Canada's decision to welcome refugees from Syria's civil war as "a punch in the face" to the Islamic State group.


6:55 p.m.

On the day the World Food Program joined more than 100 other humanitarian agencies in an appeal to bring about an end to the conflict in Syria, the U.N. agency's top official says 400,000 people in the country remain isolated in 15 besieged areas.

In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin says recent cease fires that have allowed the organization to reach places like the town of Madaya "must be expanded further."

Cousin said the WFP is reaching, along with partners, around 3.9 million people in Syria and supporting approximately 1.9 million people outside Syria with food assistance. The challenge, she said, is that over 7 million people need assistance.

The WFP is a regular presence in Davos and Cousin says its presence allows it to "give visibility" to issues business people don't see.

She says donors have "never been more generous but the challenges have never been greater."


6:40 p.m.

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri has met with British Prime Minister David Cameron in an attempt to improve relations that have long been frosty, especially over the disputed Falkland Islands.

Macri says he wants the two sides "to talk about all of the pending issues," including the Falklands. Britain lost and then recaptured the South Atlantic islands after an Argentine invasion in 1982.

Macri says the two sides are acknowledging differences, but are talking.

Thursday's meeting took place during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. A spokesperson for Cameron said the prime minister maintained Britain's position and that a recent referendum showed "the islanders wish to remain British."


6:25 p.m.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is playing down an Israeli plan to seize 370 acres (150 hectares) of West Bank land, calling it a "routine" survey of land whose fate hasn't yet been fully determined.

The Israeli leader spoke to reporters Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he had meetings with business and world leaders including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.

The U.S. State Department has condemned the planned expropriation of land in the West Bank near the city of Jericho as incompatible with Israel's avowed commitment to a two-state solution. Palestinians and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the plan announced Wednesday by Israeli's Defense Ministry.

Netanyahu said "there has been no decision on what to do with this land" and reiterated his longstanding "open call" for peace talks with the Palestinians.


5:45 p.m.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is encouraging the leaders of ethnically split Cyprus to seize the positive momentum in ongoing reunification talks.

Ban lauded Nicos Anastasiades, the Cyprus Greek Cypriot president, and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on making significant progress in eight months of talks and for demonstrating that they can reach compromises on thorny issues.

But he acknowledged after meeting both men Thursday in Davos that a "number of sensitive and difficult issues" still remain.

The U.N. chief also urged international actors, especially Cyprus' guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and Britain, to do their utmost to support the leaders in the talks.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aimed at union with Greece.


5:10 p.m.

The vice president of China says the country "has the confidence and capacity to maintain medium to high growth."

Concerns about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy have roiled financial markets in recent weeks. China's growth fell to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent last year.

Li Yuanchao said that after years of super-high growth, China is entering another phase, dubbed the "new normal."

The country is trying to shift its focus from an overreliance on manufacturing toward more consumer spending and small business. Li said: "The economy will grow more steadily and have more diversified driving forces."


4:30 p.m.

The office of the U.N. special envoy for Syria says peace talks initially scheduled to start Monday between government and opposition representatives in Geneva are likely to be delayed by a few days.

Jessy Chahine, spokeswoman for special envoy Staffan de Mistura, said in an email Thursday that the start date was likely to slip "for practical reasons" — without elaborating — but that "we are still aiming for that date and we will in any event assess progress over the weekend."

The intra-Syrian talks are set to become the third in Geneva since the conflict erupted nearly five years ago, leaving at least 250,000 dead. Diplomats and other officials say the makeup of the invitees list is among the sticking points.

The annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos is about global diplomacy.

In Davos, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the talks will likely be delayed "a day or two." Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davotoglu, Syria's northern neighbor, insisted no "terrorist groups" should be allowed to take part.


2:45 p.m.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he is not asking for anything "outrageous" from European Union leaders so that he can campaign for the country's continued membership in the 28-country bloc.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Cameron said Thursday that his aim is to "secure the future of Britain in a reformed European Union."

He said that if a deal does not emerge at a February summit of EU leaders then he can wait. His party's manifesto pledge was to hold a referendum by the end of 2017.

If offered a good deal at the summit, Cameron said he would take it.

Cameron laid out his four reform proposals. He wants changes to rules affecting migration and benefits; to "hard-wire" competitiveness into the EU's DNA; to make sure non-euro countries like Britain aren't discriminated by the 19 EU countries that use the euro currency; and to get Britain out of the idea of an "ever-closer union."


1:20 p.m.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says his country is increasingly determined to fight extremism after a university attack by Islamic militants that killed 21.

Sharif, speaking Thursday in the Swiss resort of Davos, said, the country's resolve to fight against these elements is "getting stronger every day."

He said the attack was the result of "blowback" after Pakistani authorities' efforts to dismantle extremists' infrastructure and hide-outs.

Even as his country mourned the students killed at Bacha Khan university in the town of Charsadda, Sharif insisted that the extremists' "ability to strike back has been considerably destroyed." The terrorists are "on the run," he insisted.

Sharif was speaking at a debate moderated by The Associated Press at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


1:10 p.m.

US Treasury chief Jack Lew says the beneficial effect of lower oil prices on consumers may not yet be fully apparent.

The plunge in oil prices has unnerved financial markets in recent weeks as investors worry it means the global economy is weakening and requiring less energy.

But in a panel in Davos, Switzerland, Lew stressed how the drop in oil prices acts like a tax cut for the majority of people and countries, which are net oil consumers.

He said consumers "have more money in their pockets" and that people are either spending or improving their household finances by saving or reducing debt. In either case, he said, that strengthens the economy in the longer term. "I don't think that money is just evaporating," he said.


12:30 a.m.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the European Union needs to come up with a comprehensive package of measures to deal with its migrant crisis — including more involvement by Europe-wide bodies in transit countries like his and a properly thought-out and paid-for relocation and resettlement plan.

Dismissing suggestions that his country has been reluctant to allow a bigger EU involvement in the eastern Greek islands, Tsipras said Thursday that Europe has to cooperate more on the many difficulties it faces, not least the refugee crisis and the economic problems afflicting the euro currency.

Greece has been at the heart of both crises, and last year Tsipras signed the country's third international bailout agreement in a little more than five years.

Tsipras told a panel at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos that "we need more Europe" that is focused on building democracy, solidarity and employment.


12:15 p.m.

European leaders said they will do what they can to make sure British Prime Minister David Cameron can support his country's continued future in the European Union in a referendum expected this year.

Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime minister whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the 28-country EU, said Thursday he's "fairly optimistic" a deal with Britain will emerge in February, but that he's "not absolutely sure."

Addressing a panel at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Rutte voiced his strong support for Britain's continued membership of the EU as the country is outward-looking and trade-oriented.

Cameron is seeking a series of reforms on things like benefits, powers for national parliaments and movement of people. He has voiced his hope that a successful renegotiation will lead to the British people backing Britain's future in the referendum that is expected this year.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said it would be a "tragedy" if Britain left the EU — so-called Brexit.


11:45 a.m.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says Europe will have to invest billions to deal with the refugee crisis that it's faced over the past year.

Schaeuble indicated his strong support for efforts to deal with problems in the transit countries at the forefront of the crisis, such as Greece and Italy. He didn't respond to a question on how many more refugees Germany can take in the current year.

At a panel at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Schaeuble said Thursday it would be a "disgrace" if Europe became a fortress.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said Europe has to come up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with the refugee crisis within the next two months.

Rutte said nobody was talking about ending the Schengen Agreement, which allows free movement of people across European borders.


11:15 a.m.

Christine Lagarde has received the backing of both Britain and Germany to head the International Monetary Fund for a second term.

British finance chief George Osborne issued a statement Thursday saying his government nominated her to stay in the post. The German government quickly followed, with a finance ministry statement saying Lagarde "was a circumspect and successful crisis manager during the difficult period after the financial crisis."

Countries individually nominate their preferred candidate.

At a panel in Davos, Switzerland, Lagarde said she was honored but did not want to confirm yet whether she would agree to stand again. She later told reporters that she was prepared to stay in the post if IMF member states would like her to stay.

The IMF has typically been run by a European official, while its sister organization, the World Bank, by an American. Developing countries have increasingly opposed this informal arrangement.

Lagarde, who is French, was in Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, a meeting of business leaders and public figures.


11:00 a.m.

A Chinese market regulator says the country has no option but to support growth this year, using its large financial reserves if needed.

As concerns over a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy roil markets, Fang Xinghai, from China's Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, said Thursday: "We cannot afford to let growth rate to fall too sharply, because that would ignite a lot of financial problems inside China. So we will have appropriately expansionary fiscal and financial policy this year."

At a panel in Davos, Switzerland, Ray Dalio, the chairman of Bridgewater Associates, said the biggest concern was China's currency. As it weakens, that will weigh on the global economy.

He said: "That happens at a time there is a weakness in the rest of the world."


10:00 a.m.

The annual elite economic gathering in the Swiss Alps resort of Davos is about global diplomacy, too.

War and diplomatic tensions from the Mideast to South Asia are high on Thursday's agenda. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is meeting with the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and later Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu — all of whom are holding a flurry of talks with other envoys as well.

Britain's David Cameron, China's Vice President Li Yuanchao, and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are taking the stage later Thursday at the World Economic Forum.

And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, fresh from talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, is joining Davos with a full schedule.