US & Canada

Secretive Bilderberg group meetings begin in Virginia

Trump's National Security Advisor McMaster Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Trump's National Security Adviser HR McMaster is due to attend

A secretive group of elite power brokers is meeting in the US state of Virginia for closed-door discussions over four days.

The Bilderberg Meetings have 131 participants from 21 countries in Europe and North America, the group said in a press release.

A couple of top advisers to President Donald Trump are to attend the forum, 30 miles (48km) from the White House.

The shadowy group is a lightning rod for conspiracy theorists.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a Bilderberg regular, is also due at the conference near Dulles airport

This year's group includes Mr Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, his National Security Adviser HR McMaster and Peter Thiel, the billionaire Paypal creator who has been a vocal supporter of the president.

At the top of the group's 13-point agenda is "The Trump administration: A progress report".

The forum - at a Westfields Marriott hotel in Chantilly - is also being attended by Trump critic Eric Schmidt, head of Google's parent company.

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Media captionAlex Jones shouted and interrupted as presenter Andrew Neil tried to gain control

Mr Schmidt has previously said the Trump administration will do "evil things".

Other Bilderberg topics this year include, "The war on information", "Why is populism growing?", and "Can globalisation be slowed down?"

"There is no desired outcome, no minutes are taken and no report is written," the group's rules state.

"Furthermore, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued."

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Media captionConspiracy theories: Tony Gosling and David Aaronovitch

Other guests include Dutch King Willem-Alexander; David Rubenstein, head of private equity juggernaut the Carlyle Group; and former CIA director John Brennan.

Several journalists are joining this year's forum, including London Evening Standard editor George Osborne.

A full list of participants is here.

Some critics have accused the group - which has met every year since 1954 - of plotting to impose a one-world government.

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