Clinton Global Initiative Meets in NYC

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 19, 2006; 5:58 AM

NEW YORK -- Some of the participants at this week's Clinton Global Initiative conference should come as no surprise.

Former president Bill Clinton will be there, of course, as will his senator wife, his former vice president, and a number of high-profile people with whom he has worked, including Bill and Melinda Gates.

But there are also a few people one might not expect to see at an event with the Clinton name attached _ including First Lady Laura Bush and publisher Rupert Murdoch. Bush is scheduled to be among the first speakers Wednesday at the conference, which aims to spur action on such issues as poverty, health care and global warming.

Her presence is proof of the conference's commitment to overlooking partisan politics, Clinton told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.

"No matter what your politics are, there ought to be things that we can agree on need to be done," Clinton said.

"Shouldn't there be some forum where Americans and citizens of the world can put aside their differences and find common ground?"

Started last year, the conference brings together government, business and nonprofit sectors to work on the global issues of poverty, religious and ethnic conflict, energy and climate change, and public health.

The list of invited guests, capped at about 900 people, includes such diverse voices as Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, cyclist Lance Armstrong, CBS News anchor Katie Couric and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Participants are expected to make a specific commitment toward advancing the solutions to the problems identified during the conference. Last year's conference resulted in 300 commitments totaling about $2 billion. Organizers hope to match that this year.

Only a few of last year's participants reneged on their commitment, said Jay Carson, spokesman for the initiative. They were not invited to return.

Clinton said he was looking forward to the discussions on climate change, because the invited speakers have done good work in the area, whereas last year's conference focused on getting people passionate about the cause.

"There's much more of a 'OK we got it, now let's get on with the show, what we're going to do' attitude about the climate change panel this year," he said.


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