60th Independence guest list takes shape

Among others, Mongolia's President expected to come for the first time.

Bush 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Bush 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
President Shimon Peres did not invite Syrian President Bashar Assad to Facing Tomorrow, the mega-conference he is organizing, which will be held in Jerusalem from May 13-15 in celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary - despite his belief in dialogue with adversaries. However, several presidents who were invited - most notably US President George W. Bush - have confirmed their attendance. Like Bush, some of the other dozen presidents on the list have been to Israel before, but this will be a first visit for Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar, among others. The agenda for the conference covers a myriad of topics, including the future of the world economy; the content and meaning of a Jewish state; the extent to which Jewish tradition is relevant in tomorrow's world; whether a green Israel is possible; the tipping point of the geopolitical arena; Israel's ability to continue to be a leading contender in the world of science; and cultivating future leaders of Israel and the Jewish people. Expected presidential attendees include: Victor Yushchenko of Ukraine; Lech Kaczynski of Poland; Paul Kagame of Rwanda; Michael Saakashvili of Georgia; Stjepan Mesic of Croatia; Bamir Topi of Albania; Blaise Campoare of Burkina Faso; Danilo Türk of Slovenia, Tommy Remengesau Jr. of Palau; and Valdis Zatlers of Latvia. The prime ministers of the Slovak Republic and of Hungary, Robert Fico and Ferenc Gyurcsany, will also take part, as will several former world leaders, among them Mikhail Gorbachev, Tony Blair and Henry Kissinger. As a Nobel Prize winner, Peres thought it important to invite other Nobel Prize laureates, at least seven of whom will be coming to Israel to share their views of the future. The influx of so many dignitaries will provide logistical challenges for the Foreign Ministry and the tourism industry, as hotels in Jerusalem will be fully occupied.