G20 summit begins with an eye on Covid economic recovery

Riyadh, Nov 21 (efe-epa).- The annual, two-day G20 summit  being held virtually this year due to coronavirus got underway on Saturday, with discussions on fair and sustainable economic recovery from the pandemic on the agenda.

 “We have a duty to rise to the challenge together during this summit and give a strong message of hope and reassurance to our peoples through adopting policies to mitigate this crisis,”  said Salman bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia, the event’s host.

Over the two days, the leaders of the G20, which includes many of the richest countries in the world, will discuss steps on how to boost the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 downturn.

Like at the summit in March, making the coronavirus vaccine available for developing countries will be one of the main issues to discuss.

 “We must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples. At the same time, we must prepare better for any future pandemic,” the king said in the inaugural speech.

During an event held prior to the summit, Saudi investment minister Khalid al-Falih said that the suspension of the least developed countries’ debt agreed by the G20 has so far reached $40 billion dollars and has benefited 73 countries.

However, the United Nations and the European Union have said that the debt suspension was not enough and that they would ask G20 for funds to make the vaccine available for these countries.

The run-up to the summit has also been marked by calls for greater international cooperation and a return to multilateralism after US President Donald Trump broke the consensus last year by refusing to accept the Paris Agreement to fight climate change.

The imminent change of occupant in the White House after Joe Biden emerged victorious in the presidential elections has raised expectations of the US return to the climate deal.

“Only by joining forces and working together that we will defeat coronavirus and build back better from this crisis,” British Prime Minister Boris Jonson said in a video message.

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