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Coronavirus pandemic: Saudi Arabia calls for virtual summit of G20 next week

Saudi Arabia is the current president of the G20, which includes the European Union and major economies such as China, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the US. India is set to assume the G20 presidency in 2022.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2020 10:43 PM IST
US President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a working dinner after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018.(File photo: Reuters)

Saudi Arabia has called for a “virtual” summit of the Group of 20 (G20) next week to forge a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussing the move with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Saudi Arabia is the current president of the G20, which includes the European Union and major economies such as China, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the US. India is set to assume the G20 presidency in 2022.

“The Saudi G20 Presidency is communicating with G20 countries to convene an extraordinary virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit next week to advance a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications,” said a statement issued on Tuesday.

“G20 Leaders will put forward a coordinated set of policies to protect people and safeguard the global economy,” it said.

The G20 will act along with international organisations to alleviate the impact of the pandemic, and the virtual summit will build on ongoing efforts by G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, senior health, trade, and foreign affairs officials to develop “the precise requirements and actions needed”, the statement said.

The planned summit figured in a telephone conversation between Modi and the Crown Prince on Tuesday.

The two leaders discussed the global situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Modi emphasised the need for coordinated efforts to address the global challenge that has impacted several hundred thousand people and “threatens to adversely affect the economy in many parts of the world”, said a statement from the external affairs ministry.

Modi also mentioned India’s initiative of organising a video conference of leaders of the eight members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) to forge a joint regional response. During the conference, India said it would set up a $10-million emergency fund.

“The two leaders agreed that a similar exercise at the level of G20 leaders, under the aegis of Saudi Arabia as the chair of G20, would be useful at a global scale, both for discussing specific measures to address the challenges posed by the global outbreak of COVID-19 and also to instil confidence in the global populace,” the statement said.

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