US President Donald Trump will attend the annual gathering of global leaders in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo: Carlos Barria/ Reuters)
A group of Swiss campaigners launched a petition Wednesday aimed at keeping US President Donald Trump away from the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos later this month.
The petition headlined "Trump not welcome -- stay out of Davos" was launched on the campax.org website at 9:00 am (0800 GMT) and had gathered some 2,500 signatures by mid-afternoon.
"We would be happy to have 10,000 or 30,000" signatures, Campax chief Andreas Freimuller told AFP.
"If you are anti-racist or anti-sexist, you would dislike him," he said of Trump.
The campaign began after the White House made the surprise announcement Tuesday that Trump planned to become the first sitting US president to attend the annual meeting of the world's political and business elite at Davos in nearly 20 years.
Trump -- who is promoting an "America First" agenda -- will mingle at the annual Alpine festival of globalism in Switzerland, and perhaps offer a few views of his own, the White House said.
A string of US presidents have avoided attending the annual upscale event, fearing a sojourn to a European ski resort would make them look out of touch.
The last president to go was Bill Clinton, who attended in 2000.
- Put 'World First' -
"US President Donald Trump is on excellent terms with racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, misogyny, bellicosity, climate change denial, human rights abuse and a policy that deepens poverty and inequality," Campax maintains in its petition.
"We must resist Trump's inhumane politics! We want to put the 'World First' -- not 'America First'," it added, especially taking issue with Washington's withdrawal from the Paris climate accords.
During a visit to Brussels Wednesday, US Under Secretary of the Treasury David Malpass told AFP that he expected Trump to stick to his "America First" message in Davos.
He said the US president was likely to "give strong remarks favouring US workers and explain how his presidency is characterised by putting American interests first in terms of our policies," he said, adding though that Trump would also likely stress "the importance of being engaged in world affairs as we continue to be."
Swiss authorities meanwhile did not appear too concerned by Trump's decision to attend the World Economic Forum, which each year requires a massive police and military presence in Davos.
"I was a bit surprised that he will be coming," head of the regional Graubunden police force Walter Schlegel told the Swiss news agency ATS, adding that Trump's attendance would not require "major shifts" in the security detail in the resort town.
Last year, the forum was dominated by the appearance of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Schlegel said the security arrangements needed to protect a Chinese or an American head of state were basically the same.
He warned though that Trump's attendance increases the probability of demonstrations across all of Switzerland during the gathering.
Campax is aiming to organise a demonstration near the Zurich airport around the time of Trump's arrival, Freimuller said.