Foreign envoys salute Saudi initiative to convene extraordinary summit

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joins Thursday’s G20 video conference from Tokyo to discuss the coronavirus crisis. (AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2020

Foreign envoys salute Saudi initiative to convene extraordinary summit

  • Saudi king: ‘Human crisis requires a global response’

RIYADH: King Salman chaired an emergency virtual summit of G20 world leaders on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which, to date, has no known cure or preventive vaccine.

“This pandemic has taken a great toll on human lives and caused tremendous suffering to many people around the world,” King Salman said in his opening speech.

“The impact of this pandemic has spread to the global economy, financial markets, trade, and global supply chains, hampering growth and development and reversing the gains accomplished in (the recent past).”

King Salman extended his deepest condolences to everyone around the world affected by this pandemic, wishing a speedy recovery to all those who are infected.

The key to surviving the crisis is to work together, the king said.

“This human crisis requires a global response. The world is counting on us to come together and cooperate in order to face this challenge. We have to work to ensure the quantity of medical supplies to face future pandemics.

“It is our responsibility to extend a helping hand to developing countries and the least developed countries to enable them to overcome this crisis and its repercussions,” King Salman continued. 

“The G20 has previously proven its effectiveness in mitigating the severity of the global financial crisis.”

He added: “We value the effective measures adopted by different countries in this regard. We reaffirm our full support for the World Health Organization in coordinating efforts to counter this pandemic.”

To further complement these efforts, he stressed, the G20 must assume responsibility for reinforcing cooperation in financing research and development for medicine and a vaccine for COVID-19 and ensuring the availability of vital medical supplies and equipment.

King Salman also highlighted one positive development from the COVID-19 pandemic — that the world has been brought together as one to fight an invisible enemy.

“Through our cooperation, we are confident that we, together, will overcome this crisis, and move forward towards a future where all people thrive, prosper and are healthy,” he said at the end of his speech.

China’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing said: “We appreciate the great efforts made by Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, to make this extraordinary summit a success, and reaffirm a strong commitment to protect lives, safeguard people’s jobs and incomes, restore confidence, preserve financial stability, revive growth and recover stronger. To minimize disruptions to trade and global supply chains, provide help to all countries in need of assistance, and to coordinate on public health and financial measures.”

He added: “China has been working with all countries and international organizations to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In his speech at the summit, Chinese President Xi Jin Ping stressed the importance of a coordinated approach to fight COVID-19 and confirmed that China was ready to join the international community and make its contribution in sharing knowledge, jointly developing medicine and a vaccine, and helping countries with vulnerable public health systems. We support the WHO, G20 and other mechanisms and organizations.

“As the major engine of the world economy, China is committed to enhancing coordination of macro policies, safeguarding the global supply chain, reducing tariffs, removing barriers and promoting trade. Together, we will prevail.”

Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Uemura Tsukasa told Arab News: “First of all, I would like to express my highest respect to the government of Saudi Arabia, which holds the G20 presidency this year, for hosting the extraordinary virtual G20 summit meeting at this critical moment. We are now facing one of the biggest global crises in history. It is time for the G20 countries to cooperate and take the lead in the global fight against the novel coronavirus.

“As a member country of the G20 Troika (the previous, present, and next countries to hold the presidency of the G20), Japan is keen to cooperate with other countries to tackle this crisis,” the envoy added. 

“Prime Minister Abe is fully committed to handling the situation every day and taking leadership in implementing robust precautious measures to prevent the further spread of the virus. I sincerely hope that the world will overcome this crisis as early as possible.”

Commenting on the first virtual G20 Summit, Marcelo Gilardoni, Argentina’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News: “Argentina and Saudi Arabia are working hand-in-hand, together with the rest of the G20, to address the global health challenges that created this unprecedented crisis.

“Argentina sees this virtual summit hosted by King Salman as a great opportunity to discuss coordinated measures in all fields to face this outbreak,” the envoy continued.

EU Ambassador in Riyadh Michele Cervone d’Urso told Arab News: “Today European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles-Michel joined other G20 leaders for the first Virtual G20 Leaders meeting, chaired by King Salman, to address the global COVID-19 pandemic. For the European Union, it is essential to act jointly on preparing to restart economies, keeping global supply chains open, and delivering vaccines and treatment.”

The EU envoy underlined that the pandemic is a global problem, requiring global solutions and global cooperation with far-fetching consequences in human, economic and geopolitical terms.

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