G20 leaders vow to ensure 'affordable, equitable' access to coronavirus vaccine

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud delivering the opening address at the G20 summit on Saturday

The G20 Summit this year is being hosted by Saudi Arabia on November 21-22, on the theme "Realizing Opportunities of 21st Century for All", where leaders of the 20 biggest world economies (G20) are discussing how to deal with COVID-19's economic fallout and chart a recovery course.

"The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a weakness in the global governance", Xi said. The economic crisis arising as a outcome of the virus has dominated the agenda at the two-day summit.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said on Saturday that 2020 was an "extraordinary" year in light of the "unprecedented shock" caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasised that the world was facing a major economic crisis this year that could be comparable with the Great Depression of the Thirties.

In a video statement released ahead of the summit, Johnson appealed to global leaders to harness the resources of the world's wealthiest nations to end the COVID-19 pandemic and tackle climate change.

The pandemic has offered the G-20 an opportunity to prove how such bodies can facilitate worldwide cooperation in crises - but has also underscored their shortcomings.

US President Donald Trump's robust "America first" trade policy has rankled world leaders.

"We need to show global solidarity", she said. "China actively supports and participates in global cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines", he said. He will also encourage other leaders to step up and support the Covax initiative, to ensure developing countries are not frozen out of the race for a vaccine.

China is positive to the global cooperation of developing COVID-19 vaccines.

Turkish, Saudi leaders speak by phone ahead of G20 summit

With Saudi hopes for a grand coming-out parade dashed due to the pandemic, the event has been reduced to brief online sessions of what observers call "digital diplomacy".

French President Emmanuel Macron said now was the time for the G20 to prove its worth. The G20 should respect the World Health Organization (WHO) and create a global mechanism coping with pandemics.

Last week, the bloc's finance ministers declared a "common framework" for an extended debt restructuring plan for virus-ravaged countries, but campaigners say the measure is insufficient.

Especially vulnerable are poor and highly indebted countries in the developing world, which are "on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering", United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday, reported Reuters.

International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva has warned that the global economy faces a hard road back from the Covid-19 downturn even as vaccines are now in sight.

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

European members of the G-20 are likely to push for more.

"Instead of signalling its concern for Saudi Arabia's serious abuses, the G20 is bolstering the Saudi government's well-funded publicity efforts to portray the country as "reforming" despite a significant increase in repression", said Michael Page from Human Rights Watch.

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