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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 18:52 GMT
Davos hears anti-corruption plea
Delegates at the World Economic Forum
Delegates have much to discuss
Rebuilding Iraq, improving relations between Muslim nations and the West and fighting corporate corruption topped the Davos agenda on Thursday.

US Attorney General John Ashcroft said his country was "winning the war on terrorism" but that corruption remained a threat to democracy.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf. called for "enlightened moderation" between Islam and the West.

His call echoed the Iranian president's opening plea for "genuine dialogue".

Reconstruction efforts

The links between fighting corruption, battling poverty and promoting democracy formed the major theme of the US Attorney General's blue-print for a more peaceful world.

He called for "visionary leadership" to crack down on bribery and other murky financial dealings, which the World Bank's estimates absorbs funds equal to 7% of global economic activity.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf
President Musharraf will be addressing the forum

The theme of this year's gathering of the world's great and good at the Swiss resort is "Partnering for Prosperity and Security".

US Vice President Dick Cheney is due to speak later in the week and to spend his time at the conference winning support for US efforts to rebuild Iraq.

President Musharraf's decision to back the US-led ousting of the Taliban regime and Al-Qaeda from neighbouring Afghanistan has made him a vital US ally and a target for Islamist militants in Pakistan.

He called for "intercivilisational dialogue" and pledged to carry on the thaw between Pakistan and neighbourbouring India.

Currency call

Calls for the eurozone to cut interest rates and an increase in investment in China were other top themes of the second day of the World Economic Forum.

Where there is a will, there must be a way
The title of a Davos meeting on trade liberalisation

The suggestion that the European Central Bank should consider cutting interest rates to cool the currently high euro was made by Jean-Philippe Cotis, chief economist of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

He said the bank had room to manoeuvre because inflation is tame in Europe.

Mr Cotis said a cut would also "show that the central bank is attentive to trying to boost domestic demand".

In a separate debate delegates were told that the time was ripe to invest in China.

"The profit you can make in China is higher than the one you can make in Japan, and higher, by far higher, than the one you can make in Europe," said Carlos Ghosn, boss of carmaker Nissan.

'Arab brand'

World Economic Forum (WEF) members also heard that pressure is mounting in the Arab world for political and economic reforms to try to catch up with living standards in the West.

Crown Prince Sheik Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa of Bahrain said that most Arab leaders sadly don't realise how "structurally uncompetitive their economies are", with low productivity and internal barriers to trade and ideas hindering their development.

"It will be a happy day for me when I can look at one Arab brand that is recognised globally," he said.

Less conventional sources of commercial advice will be offered to the business and political leaders at a session on terrorist groups, which will invite participants to ponder what business can learn from such organisations.

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