DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton delivered an upbeat message Thursday amid the mood of economic gloom at the World Economic Forum, telling delegates, "This is still a good time to be alive."
Clinton admitted that the deepening impact of the financial meltdown, which is dominating the agenda at this year's meeting in Davos, had left many people frightened - but said the global scale of the crisis proved that the world's nations could no longer afford to turn their backs on one another.
"This financial crisis proves, as nothing else should or could, the fundamental fact that global interdependence is more important than anything else in the world today," Clinton said. "We cannot escape each other. Divorce is not an option."
Clinton, the husband of current U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urged the current generation of international statesmen to rise to the leadership challenges posed by the financial collapse and climate change.
"This is not a time for denial or delay. Do something. Give people confidence by showing confidence," said Clinton, who served in the White House from 1993 to 2001. "Don't give up. Don't bet against yourself. Don't bet against your country. This is still a good time to be alive."
In a year when the absence of celebrities has been notable here, the appearance of the still-charismatic Clinton offered some light relief as delegates also turned their attention to the situation in the Middle East and the war in Afghanistan.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner were among many leaders making keynote appearances at the
Earlier, Ban announced details of a $613 million humanitarian aid appeal for the people of Gaza following this month's Israeli military offensive.
Afghanistan's Defense Minister Mohammad Rahim Wardak called on U.S. President Barack Obama to deliver on his pledge to commit more troops to the fight against Taliban and al Qaeda militants, but said his country needed more investment to prosper as well.
But Kouchner told the same panel that his country, which currently commits 2,600 troops to the NATO-led operation, would not be increasing the size of its deployment.
"We have just increased the number of our soldiers," he said. "There is no prospect of (France) sending more troops for the time being, and it has not been asked."