Secretive Bilderberg group gathers in US | News | DW | 02.06.2017
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Secretive Bilderberg group gathers in US

Global elites have gathered outside Washington, DC, to discuss Trump, transatlantic relations, globalization and the EU. The secretive Bilderberg meetings have spawned conspiracy theories.

Elite bankers, politicians, business leaders, academics and journalists huddle behind closed doors for meetings in Chantilly, Virginia, on Thursday to debate a range of global issues.

The four-day Bilderberg meeting this year gathers 131 elites from 21 countries for discussion, according to a statement from the group.

The group - two thirds from Europe and the rest from North America - have convened every year since 1954 to discuss major issues facing the world.

Key topics for this year's meeting include a "progress report" on the Trump administration, transatlantic relations, Russia, the Middle East, China and the future of the EU, among other issues.

Discussions are designed to be private, according to the group, in order to allow a free sharing of ideas.  Some top media representatives attend, but are not allowed to report.

"As such, they can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights. There is no desired outcome, no minutes are taken and no report is written. Furthermore, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued," according to a statement.

Joining this year's group are several officials from the Trump administration, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and the hawkish Republican Senator Tom Cotton are also attending

Invitees also include sharp critics of Trump, including Eric Schmidt, executive director of Google's parent company.

Nine people from Germany are attending from business, media and finance. They include the chairman of Bayer, Werner Baumann; the CEO of media giant Axel Springer, Mathias Döpfner; Airbus CEO Thomas Enders; and Deutsche Borse CEO Carsten Kengeter.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, former CIA head John Brennan and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger are among the other high-profile names attending.

As usual, anti-globalization protesters are expected to descend on the venue. The secretive nature of the group has spawned a trove of conspiracy theories.

The entrance to the venue for the meeting in Virginia

The entrance to the venue for the meeting in Virginia