G20 videoconference gathered world leaders coping with coronavirus

 edition.cnn.com  03/26/2020 17:00:45 

Like most of their citizens have been doing in the era of self-isolation, the G20 leaders met over video. Photos from the session showed leaders all beaming into the session from their offices or homes.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Top-R) is seen on a screen attending a videoconference with G20 leaders to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Parliament House in Canberra on March 26, 2020.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is self-quarantining after his wife tested positive for coronavirus, appeared from home.

The detached summit -- which disallowed the small pull-asides, private huddles and quiet whispers that usually color the yearly G20 gathering -- only illustrated the uncertain and unusual times over which the leaders are presiding.

And it seemed to capture the lingering questions about whether a geopolitically fractured world will be able to confront a virus that disregards borders and the governments that enforce them.

Opening the meeting, the aging Saudi King Salman -- this year's G20 president -- said the "human crisis requires a global response. The world counts on us to come together and cooperate in order to face this challenge."

Trump tweeted that he'd be discussing the call during a 5 p.m. ET news conference from the White House. The call was underway when data was released from the federal government showing jobless claims soaring to a seasonally adjusted 3.28 million in the week ending March 21 -- the most in recorded history.

World leaders are gripping for more economic turmoil as the coronavirus pandemic gains speed, including the possibility of a global recession.

In a joint statement released after the call, the G20 countries said they were committed to doing whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic and would spare no effort to protect lives, safeguard people's jobs and preserve financial stability.

In this photo from his Twitter, the President of the European Council Charles Michel participates in a video call of world leaders from the Group of 20 and other international bodies and organizations, Thursday, March 26, 2020.

The statement did not outline any new or specific measures the G20 was taking, but said leaders were ready "to react promptly and take any further action that may be required."

The joint statement aside, there are lingering global disputes that could prevent the collective from effective coordination to combat the virus. The two largest economies in the group, the US and China, have been locked in a blame game on the origins of the crisis.

On Wednesday, the US State Department pushed to include the phrase "Wuhan virus" in a joint statement with other Group of Seven members following a meeting of foreign ministers. The overtures were rejected by other members, resulting in separate statements and division in the group.
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