Saudi Arabia to hold virtual G20 summit right after US election

The summit will focus on “protecting lives and restoring growth”.
Monday 28/09/2020
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz speaks via video link during a virtual G20 summit on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 26. (REUTERS)
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz speaks via video link during a virtual G20 summit on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 26. (REUTERS)

RIYADH - The G20 leaders summit will be held virtually on Nov. 21-22, Saudi Arabia said on Monday, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the proceedings of the powerful group.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, took over the G20 presidency amid a global pandemic, continued tensions with Iran and involvement in the Yemen war at the head of an Arab military coalition.

Riyadh has sought to focus attention through its chairmanship of the G20 to reforms launched by de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to open up the kingdom and diversify its economy.

King Salman will chair the November summit, a G20 Saudi secretariat statement said.

The majority of the meetings so far have been held virtually due the novel coronavirus.

The summit will focus on “protecting lives and restoring growth, by addressing vulnerabilities uncovered during the pandemic and by laying down foundations for a better future,” the statement said.

The Group of 20 major economies have this year contributed over $21 billion to support measures such as the production and distribution of vaccines to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

They have injected $11 trillion to stem the economic impact of the pandemic and launched a debt suspension initiative for the world’s poorest countries aimed at deferring some $14 billion in debt payments due this year.

Riyadh has also been trying to settle the costly conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iran-backed Houthi group for over five years  after the Houthis took over Sana’a and other parts of Yemen from the internationally recognised government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The summit will take place a few weeks after The US presidential elections, November 3.

US President Donald Trump will face off with Democratic contender Jo Biden in a close race that is too early to call.