United G20 agrees on measures to combat coronavirus pandemic

King Salman leading G20 virtual meeting
King Salman leading G20 virtual meeting

Leadersof the biggest countries on Thursday took part in an extraordinary "virtualsummit," under the auspices of the Saudi Arabia G20 presidency, tocombat the threat to lives and livelihood from the coronavirus disease COVID-19— and issued a call for global action in the face of an unprecedented crisis.

"We are strongly committed to presenting a united front againstthis common threat," they said after two hours of digital debate organized bythe Saudi G20 team in Riyadh.

"We will protect human life, restore global economic stability andlay out solid foundations for strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusivegrowth," the leaders added in their joint statement.

The traditional communique from the national leaders and otherinternational leaders — which is expected after G20 summits but often delayedas a result of last-minute quibbles about wording and content — was publishedonly minutes after King Salman closed the meeting.

In the face of the global pandemic, there seemed to be littledisagreement that urgent and concerted action was necessary.

"The G20 is committed to do whatever it takes to overcome thepandemic, along with the World Health Organization, InternationalMonetary Fund, World Bank Group, United Nations and otherinternational organizations, working within their existing mandates. We are determinedto spare no effort, both individually and collectively," the leaders said.

The communique listed the G20's priorities: To protectlives, safeguard jobs and incomes, restore confidence, preserve financialstability, revive growth and recover stronger.

It also pledged to minimize disruption to trade and global supplychains, provide help to poorer countries, and coordinate public health andfinancial measures.

The meeting — the first "virtual" summit in the G20's 21-yearhistory — was staged ahead of the planned full gathering in Riyadh in November,and conducted digitally because of the restrictions on air travel.

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