King Salman says G20 leaders must work towards equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines

LONDON: G20 leaders must work towards fair and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines, King Salman said during his opening remarks at the G20 summit in Riyadh on Saturday.

“Although we are optimistic about the progress made in developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics tools for COVID-19, we must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples,” he said, opening the unprecedented meeting held virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“It is unfortunate that we are unable to host you in person in Riyadh, due to the exceptional circumstances that we are all facing this year,” King Salman told G20 leaders.

“Our peoples and economies are still suffering from this shock. However, we will do our best to overcome this crisis through international cooperation,” the king said. 

The summit is expected to be dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic repercussions.  

The king said that the 20 largest global economies had contributed $ 21 billion to confronting COVID-19 and “took extraordinary measures to support our economies by injecting over $11 trillion to support individuals and businesses.”

G20 countries should provide support to developing countries to maintain development progress, the king said.

The role of women and youth in society and the labor market must be strengthened, he added.

King Salman added that G20 countries must lead the international community in conserving and protecting the environment, combating land degradation and preserving coral reefs. 

He added that G20 countries have adopted the Riyadh Initiative on the Future of the WTO which aims to make the multilateral trading system more capable of facing any challenges.

Economies and borders must be reopened to facilitate the movement of trade and people, the king said. 

The Kingdom launched the summit with an aerial display of passenger and aerobatic planes over Riyadh and on Friday, a virtual “family photo” of G20 heads of state was displayed on the walls of the historic Salwa Palace in Diriyah at a cultural dinner for journalists, guests and envoys. 

Individual photos of the G20 leaders were joined together with King Salman at the center.

“I am confident that the Riyadh Summit will deliver significant and decisive results and will lead to adopting economic and social policies that will restore hope and reassurance to the people of the world,” King Salman said at the end of his speech. 

Earlier on Saturday, King Salman said that Saudi Arabia was pleased with the meeting of the leaders of the G20 countries, stressing that the G20 had demonstrated its ability to join efforts against COVID-19.

“The group demonstrated its strength and ability to cooperate in order to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the world,” he tweeted.

It’s everyone’s responsibility “to move towards to a better, healthier and prosperous future for all,” King Salman added.

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