G20 leaders pledge fair global distribution of coronavirus vaccine

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Berlin Germany

The economic crisis arising as a outcome of the virus has dominated the agenda at the two-day summit.

"We have a duty to rise to the challenge together during this summit and give a strong message of hope and reassurance to our people by adopting policies to mitigate this crisis", he told world leaders in opening remarks.

"Our peoples and economies are still suffering from this shock. However, we will do our best to overcome this crisis through global cooperation", he said, as de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looked on.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday proposed using a digital health code system as a "fast track" for orderly travel between countries while calling for stronger worldwide coordination to reestablish cross-border movement amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The head of the International Monetary Fund called on Sunday for prompt and effective implementation of the G20 framework for debt treatments beyond the initiative and said other countries needed help as well.

The summit also included talk of bolstering the world's pandemic response programs to better prepare for any future health scare.

"The G20, which has spent, as they proudly declare, $15 trillion to counter COVID just this year, couldn't even agree to write down that they would come up with $4.5 billion to get those vaccines delivered around the world", Kirton said.

The virus originally appeared in China in 2019. China has three vaccines of its own in development, undergoing Phase III trials, Reuters reported.

"We have mobilised resources to address the immediate financing needs in global health to support the research, development, manufacturing and distribution of safe and effective Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines", the draft document said.

"We will honor our commitment of giving assistance and support to other developing countries, and work to make vaccines a global public good accessible and affordable to people around the world", Xi pledged.

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".

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meets with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 14, 2017. He also planned to push the fights against protectionism and climate change.

Ahead of the summit, Erdogan spoke with King Salman by phone, the president's office said on Saturday.

Al Saud's statements were made during a virtual interview on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders Summit held in Riyadh, repeated similar claims made earlier in October.

"President Erdogan and King Salman agreed on keeping channels of dialogue open in order for the bilateral relations to be enhanced and for issues to be settled", the presidency said.

But the group faces mounting pressure to help stave off possible credit defaults among developing nations, as their debt soars amid the economic catastrophe stoked by the virus.

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 push it until the end of 2021.

It was unclear whether Trump, who continues to reject his election loss, will speak at the event.

G20 leaders said that while global economic activity has partially picked up thanks the gradual reopening of some economies, the recovery is uneven, highly uncertain and subject to downside risks.

The family of Loujain al-Hathloul, a jailed Saudi women's rights defender believed by her relatives and advocacy organizations to be on hunger strike, has called on the G20 to demand that Saudi Arabia release the prominent activist.

"The G20 presidency has conferred an undeserved mark of global prestige on the (Saudi) government", said Michael Page from Human Rights Watch.

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