Saudi Arabia Hosts First Virtual G-20 Summit in Bid to Coordinate World Response to Coronavirus


CAIRO – Saudi Arabia hosted the first virtual summit of the G-20 countries Thursday to discuss how to coordinate the world’s economic response to the coronavirus crisis.
Arab media highlighted Thursday’s virtual summit of the G-20 states hosted by Riyadh, focusing on the need to coordinate policy at the world level to better combat the potential catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on the world economy.
King Salman, addressing G-20 leaders, insisted that “the coronavirus pandemic requires us to take firm measures at various levels, because (the virus) affects a lot of people.”   
The epidemic, he said, “affected economies globally … “and “the world is looking up at the G-20 to face (the crisis).”
Thursday’s virtual summit follows a Monday virtual summit of G-20 finance ministers to discuss the response of governments and central banks to a looming economic crisis stemming from the lockdown of millions of people in countries across the world.
Mohammed Bishi, deputy editor of Saudi Arabia’s Al Iqtisadiah newspaper, told Saudi media that it is imperative for countries to coordinate economic and monetary policy, rather than acting alone. He said that in the shadow of globalism and open markets, no nation can independently make decisions regarding interest rates or its currency without being in sync with what’s happening in the rest of the world.

The President of the European Council Charles Michel participates in a video conference of world leaders from the Group of 20 and other international bodies and organizations, from Brussels, Belgium, March 26, 2020.

Paul Sullivan, a professor at the U.S. National Defense University, told VOA that he thinks virtual diplomacy can work well going forward, given the “need for the world’s leaders to talk things through.”  
“My sense,” he said, “is that a large part of the diplomacy of the future … will increasingly be done at virtual levels and online.”  
“Online,” he added, “is not really virtual if it is done in real time,” and in a “synchronous” fashion.
Washington-based Gulf analyst Theodore Karasik pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s own “robust military and medical response to the coronavirus to secure and sanitize” aspects of daily life is an “exportable model” that other countries may wish to follow to “flatten their (infection) curve and decontaminate.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Wednesday that he had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and “agreed that all countries need to work together to contain the pandemic and stabilize energy markets.”

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