Saudi Arabia hosts a virtual G20 dominated by Covid-19

Saudi Arabia will host on Saturday and Sunday, in virtual format, the G20 summit, the first to be held in an Arab country, dominated by efforts to curb the new coronavirus pandemic and its devastating economic consequences, including debt.

The two-day meeting of the richest countries in the world It is held at a time when the group is coming under fire for its response to the global recession and when US President Donald Trump continues to fail to acknowledge defeat in the presidential election.

This time there will be no grand opening ceremony and no chance for bilateral deals because the summit will be limited to short online sessions, in what some already call “digital diplomacy.”

The pandemic of Covid-19 will be the main theme of this G20, chaired by King Salmán.

Also read: Covid-19 vaccine, in the hands of the FDA

In particular, they will be on the agenda the distribution of vaccines after the latest hopeful clinical trials and responding to calls for the G20 to expand its funding to fight the virus, which infected more than 55 million people and killed more than 1.3 million worldwide.

Among others, speeches by the German Chancellor are expected, Angela Merkel; of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping; and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, indicated sources close to the organization.

President Donald Trump It will “participate” in the online summit, a US official told AFP on Friday. His secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, will be in Saudi Arabia for the appointment.

The British Prime Minister will also participate, Boris Johnson.

“If we take advantage of the ingenuity and collective resources of G20, we can chart a path out of the pandemic and build a better and greener future, “Johnson said in a statement released by his services.

“The G20 summit will seek to strengthen international cooperation to support the global economic recovery,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said.

Also read: Covid-19 cases rose in 4 weeks as in the first 6 months of the pandemic: WHO

G20 countries have already spent more than $ 21 billion (17.7 billion euros) to fight coronavirus. Some $ 11 trillion to save the world economy, according to the organizers.

On Friday, several leaders urged, in a letter accessed by AFP, the G20 countries to help fill out a $ 4.5 billion hole in the World Health Organization (WHO) fund dedicated to distributing coronavirus vaccines, among other things.

“Recent advances in covid-19 vaccines offer hope,” but must “reach everyone (…) which means that vaccines should be treated as a public good (…) accessible to all, “said the secretary general of the HIM-HER-IT, Antonio Guterres, to journalists in New York.

The G20 members will also tackle the debt of the poorest countries, which are facing the collapse of their external financing.

Last week, the group’s finance ministers agreed on a “common framework” to ease the debt burden, involving China and private creditors for the first time.

But the NGOs and Guterres, who this week called for “bolder measures”, believe that it is not enough and called for “greater debt relief.” The UN secretary general wanted the suspension to last until the end of 2021.

In this sense, the Argentine Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, asked on Friday in a virtual meeting of G20 finance ministers “support” to the members in the negotiation of Argentina with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Also read: AMLO participates, virtually, in the G20 Summit

Guzmán thanked “all the G20 countries for having supported the Argentine debt restructuring process” and stressed that “the next step to resolve our macro and debt crisis is the program with the IMF,” in statements quoted in a statement. of the government.

Argentina confirmed the participation of its president, Alberto Fernandez, at the summit, where their counterparts from Brazil will also be virtually, Jair Bolsonaro, and from Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the three Latin American countries that are members of the G20.

The summit is clouded by allegations of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and relatives of jailed activists urged world leaders to boycott it or, at least, pressure the country’s leaders to release political prisoners.

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