G-20 summit opens as leaders urge united response to virus

Daniel Fowler
November 22, 2020

In opening remarks, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, which hosted the virtual two-day meeting, applauded initiatives by G-20 nations to invest $21 billion in global efforts to combat the pandemic and $11 trillion to bolster the global economy.

Erdogan and the Saudi king discussed bilateral relations during the phone call and exchanged views on the G20 summit, the Turkish presidency said late on Friday.

World leaders will spend most of their time discussing worldwide efforts for a large-scale roll out of Covid-19 vaccines after a breakthrough in trials, and address the need to plug a $4.5 billion funding gap in the so-called ACT-Accelerator - a programme that promotes an equitable distribution of the vaccines.

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the USA now leads the world in the number of total confirmed coronavirus infections, followed by India at roughly 9 million, Brazil with 6 million and France with 2.1 million cases.

The summit is being held virtually by hosts Saudia Arabia owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

High on the agenda of the G20 meeting are purchases and global distribution of vaccines, drugs and tests for low-income countries that can not afford such expenses themselves. Governments have reimposed lockdowns and curfews.

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro, who spent months downplaying the severity of the virus while deaths mounted rapidly inside Brazil, said in a video message ahead of the summit that cooperation within the G-20 is key to overcoming the pandemic.

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European nations in the G20 will also seek fresh impetus to the stalled reform of the World Trade Organization, hoping to capitalize on the upcoming change of US administration.

"Today we are facing a health crisis that threatens the lives of millions of people", Macron said. Countries such as Britain, the US, France and Germany - all G-20 member states - have directly negotiated deals with pharmaceutical companies to receive billions of doses, meaning that the vast majority of the world's vaccine supply next year is already reserved.

The Hill reports that Trump's public schedule shows he's to attend another G-20 session Sunday morning.

Guterres called on more G-20 nations to join COVAX, an global initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to countries worldwide.

"I am confident that the Riyadh summit will deliver significant and decisive results and will lead to adopting economic and social policies that will restore hope and reassurance to the people of the world, " King Salman said.

The gathering also comes at a time of deep political tension within the United States, with a doubt over whether or not Trump will address the attendees.

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