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World leaders to meet virtually to coordinate virus response

SeattlePI.com Thursday, 26 March 2020 ()
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Leaders of the world's most powerful economies will convene virtually on Thursday to try and coordinate a response to the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has shuttered businesses and forced well over a quarter of the world's population into home isolation.

The meeting for the Group of 20 nations will be chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman. The kingdom, which is presiding over the G20 this year, said it organized the extraordinary meeting to advance global efforts to tackle the pandemic and its economic implications as people lose their incomes amid closures, curfews and lockdowns.

The meeting comes amid criticism that the world's wealthiest countries have not taken cohesive action to combat the virus or its economic impact on people around the world.

The global death toll from the new coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19, has climbed past 21,000 and the number of infections has surpassed 472,000, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The number of dead in the U.S. rose to 1,041 as of late Wednesday, with nearly 70,000 infections. Spain’s death toll has risen past 3,400, eclipsing that of China, where the virus was first detected in December.

There was sparring this week among foreign ministers from the Group of 7 leading industrialized democracies over whether to call out China as the source of the coronavirus. The ministers were unable to agree on a U.S. push to identify the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus," in reference to the city in China where it first appeared. As a result, the foreign ministers opted against releasing a group statement.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the heads of state who will take part in Thursday's G20 leaders' summit. The virtual summit will also include leaders from...
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