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Trump arrives in Davos hours before impeachment trial reopens

As the US Senate trial of President Donald Trump is due to get underway in earnest at 1 pm (1800 GMT) on Tuesday, the President arrived in Davos where world's top business leaders, bracing for an address from him.

US Marine One helicopter touched down in the picturesque Swiss ski resort shortly ahead of his scheduled speech to the World Economic Forum, which this year is focusing on climate change.

But before his appearance, Swedish climate teen activist Greta Thunberg underlined the message that has inspired millions around the world -- that governments are failing to wake up to the reality of climate change.

She slammed global inaction on climate change in front of the world's top business leaders that Gathered in Davos. The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps resort got under way seeking to meet head-on the dangers to both the environment and economy from the heating of the planet.

There are no expectations that Trump and Thunberg, who have exchanged barbs through Twitter, will actually meet, but the crowded venue and intense schedule mean a chance encounter cannot be ruled out.

US President has repeatedly expressed scepticism about climate change, is set to give the first keynote address of Davos 2020 on Tuesday morning, on the same day as his impeachment trial opens at the Senate in Washington.

Trump's case is the third impeachment trial of a sitting president in U.S. history. The 100 members of the upper chamber will gather for what is likely to be the first full day of proceedings in the case.

Last week, senators and the chief justice were sworn in. Since then, the Democratic Party lawmakers who will head the prosecution, known as the House managers, have filed their legal brief and Trump’s defence team has done the same.

The president is accused firstly of having abused the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation of his domestic political rival, Joe Biden, in order to potentially help Trump’s re-election campaign.

The second article of impeachment says he obstructed Congress’ investigation of the Ukraine affair.

Both articles were approved last month by the House of Representatives as the president denies any wrongdoing.

His legal team said on Monday that the president “is the victim” of a “rigged process” motivated by politics and that he has done nothing wrong. The brief argues that the case is “flimsy” and that the two articles of impeachment “allege no crime or violation of law whatsoever”.

Later on Monday Republicans proposed 12-hour daily sessions for the trial, setting a gruelling pace for the start of the case. Democrats immediately expressed their anger, calling the proposal “a national disgrace”.

Trump is framing the impeachment as an attempt to overturn the 2016 election.

Democrats say the president’s behaviour is threatening the integrity of the election later this year.

Senators must remain silent during proceedings, which are due to take place every day except on Sundays, until a decision is reached.

Two-thirds of members are required to remove a president from office.

However, with the Senate controlled by Trump’s Republican party, the most likely and expected outcome is an acquittal as the President is confidently tweeting has he departed to the World Annual Economic Forum in Davos. 

Tweeting as he headed to Davos, Trump appeared in bullish mood, writing he would "bring Good Policy and additional Hundreds of Billions of Dollars back to the United States of America!"

"We are now NUMBER ONE in the Universe, by FAR!! he added.

Sustainability is the buzzword at the forum, which began in 1971, with heel crampons handed out to participants to encourage them to walk on the icy streets rather than use cars, and the signage paint made out of seaweed.

Trump's opposition to renewable energy, his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, and the free hand extended to the fossil fuel industry puts him at odds with the entire thrust of the event.

Business leaders attending the forum will be keen to tout their awareness on climate change but are likely also to be concerned by the state of the global economy whose prospects, according to the IMF, have improved but remain brittle.

The IMF cut its global growth estimate for 2020 to 3.3 percent, saying that a recent truce in the trade war between China and the US had brought some stability but that risks remained.

"We are already seeing some tentative signs of stabilisation but we have not reached a turning point yet," said IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.

Donald Trump is also due to meet separately with the president of Iraq, Pakistan's prime minister and the head of the European Union executive body on the sideline of Davos summit before he return to the White House on Wednesday.

(NAN/AFP)

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