NEW DELHI :
Saudi Arabia is in touch with other members of the G-20 group of developed and developing nations to convene an “extraordinary session" for preparing a common strategy to tackle the challenge posed by Covid-19. This comes as the number of those affected by the virus crossed the 200,000 mark on Wednesday.
The statement from Saudi Arabia, which holds the G20’s rotating presidency this year, followed a telephonic conversation between the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday. Modi discussed the need to coordinate and draw up a strategy at the G20 level, India’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The move comes amid fears of the world slipping into a recession comparable to the 2008 financial crisis that triggered the formation of the G20 as a grouping. Deaths caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus topped 8,200 on Wednesday and its footprint is visible in 157 countries, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins live tracker of the disease.
Riyadh was “communicating with G20 countries to convene an extraordinary virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit next week to advance a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications," Saudi Arabia said.
“The G20 will act, alongside international organisations, in any way deemed necessary to alleviate the impact of the pandemic. G20 leaders will put forward a coordinated set of policies to protect people and safeguard the global economy," it said.
“The summit will build on the ongoing efforts of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, senior health, trade, and foreign affairs officials, to further develop the precise requirements and actions needed. The Saudi presidency will continue to support and coordinate international efforts to counter the impact of the pandemic, both in human and economic terms," Saudi Arabia said.
Global markets have crumbled after the WHO earlier this month declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, spooking investors. Many countries have closed borders and imposed travel curbs besides advising shopping complexes to down shutters to curb the disease.
That Modi had sought the convening of a G-20 session to discuss the Covid-19 challenge was first made public by Australian PM Scott Morrison over the weekend. Morrison said that in his conversation with British PM Boris Johnson, he communicated Australia’s support to Modi’s efforts to organize a link-up among all G-20 leaders. “One of the things I should mention is that I told PM Johnson that when it comes to the G20, I’m also aware that PM Modi is keen to organise a link-up between all the G-20 leaders. I think that’s a commendable initiative. Australia obviously supports that. I’ve communicated that," Morrison said.