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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

G20 Summit: Donald Trump to take part in virtual gathering

Trump will join the summit virtually [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 November, 2020

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Donald Trump will take part in the summit, which will be held remotely due to coronavirus restrictions.


US President Donald Trump will participate in the virtual G20 summit being hosted by Saudi Arabia on Saturday, a senior US official said.

Trump's participation in the two-day meeting of the world's wealthiest nations comes on the heels of his attendance at Friday's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit via video link.

Neither summit was held in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The summit comes with Trump still refusing to accept his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 presidential election while issuing unfounded accusations of widespread fraud.

Held under the shadow of the raging pandemic, the summit which is usually an opportunity for one-on-one engagements between world leaders is reduced to brief online sessions on pressing global issues -- from climate change to growing inequality.

Discussions are expected to be dominated by the pandemic's implications and steps for reviving the global economy.

Saudi Arabia is the first Arab nation to host a G20 summit.

Lackluster event

Held online this year because of the coronavirus, the gathering of leaders of the world's preeminent rich and developing nations will not be an opportunity for kings, presidents and prime ministers to conduct the intimate diplomacy of closed-door meetings or pose for memorable photo-ops.

Without red carpet arrivals, it will not be an occasion for its Saudi hosts to dazzle the world’s media.

And it is not expected to yield a globally unified response to the worst pandemic in decades. While billions of dollars have been pledged for medicines and vaccines, G-20 countries have mostly focused on securing their own supplies.

A virtual summit does spare Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman the possibility that some leaders may have stood him up in Riyadh, two years after Western intelligence agencies said he bears ultimate responsibility for the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey by Saudi agents — a slaying he’s denied any involvement in.

But an online meeting also deprives the Saudis of a media spectacle to tout their position in the world.

Beyond putting putting a kink in Saudis plans, the pandemic has offered the G-20 an opportunity to prove how such bodies can facilitate international cooperation in crises — but has also underscored their shortcomings.

The G-20 — whose member-countries represent around 85% of the world’s economic output and three-quarters of international trade — was founded in 1999 as a way for finance ministers and central bank governors to discuss the global economy.

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