World Economic Forum to Move to New York for 2002

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The annual gathering of government and business leaders, beset by protests at a Swiss Alpine resort, is moving to New York City for its 2002 session, officials said Tuesday.

Anti-globalization demonstrators who dogged the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said they would also travel to the United States for the meeting planned Jan. 31-Feb. 5.

The forum provides an opportunity for 3,200 business leaders, heads of government and cultural figures to mix and make deals in a relaxed setting.

The formal announcement of the venue change - intended to demonstrate solidarity with New York City following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - will be made at news conferences Wednesday in New York and Switzerland, officials said.

Charles McLean, spokesman for the forum foundation that has staged the event in Davos for three decades, declined to confirm or deny newspaper reports about the change.

``Of course, we've been looking at alternatives,'' McLean said.

Other forum representatives said Klaus Schwab, originator of the forum, is to appear at the news conference in New York. The New York Times said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki will also appear.

The forum is to be held in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel from Jan. 31 to Feb. 5, the same time it had been planned for Davos, the Times said.

The organizers, who previously insisted that the 2002 forum would be held in Davos or not at all, told the Swiss government Monday of the decision to move to New York, said Swiss officials, who spoke on condition on anonymity.

The mass-circulation daily Blick of Zurich said the forum would return to Davos in 2003, but the Geneva's Le Temps newspaper said that decision wasn't final.

Heightened concern about security following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington fueled opposition to staging the event in Switzerland this winter.

Security cost $5.4 million for the 2001 session. The Graubuenden cantonal government said costs would have risen to $6.9 million for a 2002 event in Davos. In 1997, before protesters started targeting the meeting, security cost only $137,500.

Protesters claim the forum promotes collaboration between business and government at the expense of workers and the world's poor.

Police used water cannons and barriers to keep demonstrators from disrupting the 2001 meeting in Davos. Protesters then rampaged in the nearby town of Landquart and in Zurich, Switzerland's financial capital.

Giovanni A. Schumacher, a spokesman for the Libertarian Coordination, one of the protest groups, said the move to New York was a victory for the demonstrators. ``The decision shows that resistance can have positive results,'' he said.

Schumacher said he expected a strong Swiss contingent to travel to New York to continue protests.