RIYADH: King Salman has said the G20 extraordinary summit on Thursday will unite the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges to healthcare systems and the global economy, we convene this extraordinary G20 summit to unite efforts towards a global response. May God spare humanity from all harm," the king said on Twitter.
The G20 is usually a once-a-year event, but two meetings were held in 2009 and 2010, at the height of the global financial crisis. It is a mark of how seriously leaders regard the virus threat that they have agreed to an “extraordinary” summit ahead of the formal scheduled gathering in Riyadh in November.
The G20 comprises the 19 biggest national economies in the world, plus the EU. Spain, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland will also take part in the meeting, and the UAE will be represented as chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The World Health Organization, the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are among the international organizations that will take part, as well as other development organizations.
So far in the economic response to the health emergency, governments around the world have spent an estimated $4.5 trillion on financial stimulus packages and economic assistance, the biggest being the $2 trillion in aid agreed by the US Congress this week.
The king said on Tuesday that he would chair the summit to advance the global coordinated response to the outbreak.
As well as the leaders of the G20 group, the heads of state of Jordan, Spain, Singapore and Switzerland will also participate.
Saudi Arabia currently holds the presidency of the G20.