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G20 leaders meet online to grapple with Covid-19 fallout

G20 leaders meet online to grapple with Covid-19 fallout

dpa
Cairo
Leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies gathered online on Saturday for an annual summit focusing on tackling economic repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic and potential access to vaccines against the virus.
The two-day summit is hosted by Saudi Arabia, the current president of the bloc.   Saudi King Salman opened the event, calling on the G20 leaders to address the vulnerabilities resulting from the pandemic. “In the near future, we must address vulnerabilities exposed by this crisis while protecting lives and livelihoods,” he said.
Salman called for coordinated support for developing countries suffering from economic fallout, saying that this was crucial in maintaining the development they had achieved over past decades.
“This pandemic has wrought economic and social losses ... But we will do our utmost to overcome this crisis through international cooperation,” he added via a videoconference.
Salman, 84, stopped several times to clear his throat in his 10-minute address. In July, the ruler of the world’s top oil exporter, left a hospital in Riyadh after undergoing surgery to remove his gall bladder. In March, the G20 leaders vowed to coordinate their response to the pandemic. Since then, they have collectively injected 11 trillion dollars to mitigate the impact on the global economy.
The group has also launched a debt suspension initiative for the least developed countries that would allow the beneficiaries to defer 14 billion dollars in debt payments due this year.
On Saturday, the Saudi king also called for a Covid-19 vaccine to be made accessible to all people in a “fair manner and at affordable cost,” a point that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also emphasized in his address. The G20 needs to “prepare mechanisms that will guarantee a fair access and affordable use of the vaccine for everyone,” Erdogan said.
Turkey is following closely the “promising” vaccine development by a German firm, he added, in a reference to BioNTech, which is cooperating with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on a vaccine.

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