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World Economic Forum Revokes Invite to North Korea for Davos

World Economic Forum (WEF) Executive Chairman and founder Klaus Schwab attends a news conference in Cologny, near Geneva, Jan. 13, 2016.
World Economic Forum (WEF) Executive Chairman and founder Klaus Schwab attends a news conference in Cologny, near Geneva, Jan. 13, 2016.

Organizers of the World Economic Forum in Davos say they have revoked an invitation to a delegation from North Korea, in what appears to be an international rebuke over the secretive Communist country's nuclear test this month.

The WEF invitation had been extended to North Korea in the autumn "in view of positive signs coming out of the country,'' organizers said in a statement. North Korea had accepted to attend the annual high-profile gathering of hundreds of heads of state, CEOs and public figures in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Recent nuclear test

But after North Korea carried out on Jan. 6 a nuclear test — which it claimed to be of a hydrogen bomb — the WEF said the country's delegation would be subject to "existing and possible forthcoming sanctions.'' Western and other countries have been looking for ways to punish North Korea for its increasingly militaristic tone.

The WEF added that a delegation would still be welcome in the future if North Korea "acts as a responsible and responsive member of the international community.'' It did not elaborate.

WEF officials said that the decision to revoke the invitation came within the last 24 hours, in part because of the growing acceptance that the North Korean delegation, which was to be headed by its foreign minister, would not be open to dialogue.

Philipp Roesler, a member of the WEF managing board, said that when the invitation was extended in the fall, event organizers believed there had been "convincing, encouraging signals out of DPRK that there maybe is an opportunity for international global dialogue.''

"But we have all seen what has happened last week,'' he told reporters, as organizers presented this year's agenda. "We decided after the nuclear test that... there will be no opportunity for an international global dialogue in the spirit of the World Economic Forum.''

"Therefore we could not maintain our invitation to DPRK,'' he added, referring to a common acronym for North Korea.

Biden, Kerry to attend

WEF organizers said notables expected to attend the Jan. 20-23 conference include U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, David Cameron of Britain and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan.

The 1,500 business leaders will include General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Alibaba chairman Jack Ma, as well as the heads of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and World Bank.

The 46th annual WEF meeting is expected to draw more than 2,500 participants from over 100 countries under the theme "Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.''