Controlling COVID-19 key to economic recovery - G20

Angela Merkel calls for global action to beat coronavirus at G20

World leaders expressed cautious optimism about widespread coronavirus vaccine access as the virtual G20 summit wrapped up with a final statement from the world's 20 largest economies, expressing that the countries would make sure vaccines are distributed equitably across the globe when they are available.

G20 nations must help plug the $4.5-billion funding gap in the so-called ACT-Accelerator, Norway's prime minister, South Africa's president and the heads of the European Union and the World Health Organization demanded in a joint letter to the group.

Soaring debt G20 nations have contributed more than $21 billion to combat the pandemic, which has infected 56 million people globally and left 1.3 million dead, and injected $11 trillion to shore up the battered world economy, summit organizers said.

But in initial interventions on Saturday, some leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, U.S. President Donald Trump and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, stressed the success of vaccine development in their own countries, which to some listeners suggested a clear sense of global competition among the richest and most powerful countries in the race to counter the pandemic.

"To contain the virus, stabilise the economy and protect livelihood remains a long and arduous journey for all countries", Xi said, adding, "While containing the virus, we must also stabilise and restore economic growth".

"The only effective response to the pandemic will be a coordinated, global one, based on solidarity", said French President Emmanuel Macron.

At a news conference, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed alJadaan emphasized that there was consensus among G20 nations that "if we leave any country behind, we will be behind".

Group of 20 (G20) nations emphasized the need for global access to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines at a Saudi-hosted virtual summit dominated by efforts to tackle the pandemic and the worst global recession in decades.

But as richer nations plan their vaccination programs, with the United States expecting to launch in early December, experts warn that developing countries face hurdles that could deny billions the first proven protection against the virus.

But the group's leaders face mounting pressure to help stave off possible credit defaults across developing nations.

The ministers had extended a debt suspension initiative for developing countries until June next year but UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pushed for a commitment to extend it until the end of 2021.

The World Health Organization said Friday that more cases have been reported in the past four weeks than the first six months of the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record has cast a shadow on the gathering, as campaigners and families of jailed activists launched vigorous drives to highlight the issue.

But some Western officials have indicated human rights will not be raised at the summit, saying they prefer to use bilateral forums to discuss the issue with the Saudi government. India is set to host the G20 Summit in 2022.

The 15th G20 summit on Saturday saw PM Narendra Modi calling for a new Global Index for the post-corona world which would incorporate a strong emphasis on respecting nature with a spirit of trusteeship with "Mother Earth".

"However, considering that in 2023 Indonesia will also hold ASEAN chairmanship, Indonesia has discussed [to swap] the G20 chairmanship timing with India".

Worldwide rights groups called on countries to boycott the event, demanding that authorities release dissidents and women's rights activists who have been detained there.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the summit, which had been scheduled originally to be held in Riyadh, to be conducted virtually.

Created in 1999, the G20 is a forum for global cooperation on financial and economic issues.



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