Washington – Former US president George W Bush had scrapped plans to address a summit of young business executives this weekend because WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was scheduled to speak to the same group, his office said yesterday.
“The former president has no desire to share a forum with a man who has wilfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States,” said his spokesman, David Sherzer.
Bush had accepted an invitation six months ago to deliver the closing keynote speech today to the Young Presidents’ Association’s Global Leadership Summit in Denver, Colorado, Sherzer said.
“This week, upon learning that Julian Assange had recently been invited to address the same summit, former president Bush decided to cancel his appearance,” said Sherzer.
The summit’s schedule lists Bush as making the closing keynote speech, while Assange does not appear, but the Denver Business Journal reported this week that the 39-year-old Australian was expected to address attendees via satellite.
The Young Presidents’ Association describes itself on its website as a global network of 18 000 successful young business executives in more than 100 countries.
It also says the summit aimed to foster a discussion of “the latest developments in globalisation, the role of visionary leadership, and global political and social conflicts”.
“We regret that our members will not be able to hear from former president Bush,” said international chairman Jill Belconis. “We hope to have him participate in another event in the future.
“The Young Presidents’ Association’s only mission is to enable members to become better leaders through education and idea exchange,” she said.