China, US to set aside dif­fer­ences in G20 coro­n­avirus sum­mit – re­port

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page -

BEIJING (Reuters) – China and the United States are ex­pected to call a time­out on their coro­n­avirus blame game and fo­cus on the chal­lenges of the pan­demic when lead­ers of the G20 na­tions hold talks via video con­fer­ence on Thurs­day, the South China Morn­ing Post said.

The virus has spread around the globe, in­fect­ing more than 470,000 peo­ple and killing more than 20,000, since it emerged in cen­tral China late last year.

The lead­ers are ex­pected to agree that the out­break is a threat to hu­man­ity and will set up a mech­a­nism to share in­for­ma­tion and ex­pe­ri­ences in fight­ing the dis­ease, the pa­per said, cit­ing a draft state­ment to be dis­cussed at the sum­mit.

“As the world con­fronts the COVID19 pan­demic and the chal­lenges to health­care sys­tems and the global econ­omy, we con­vene this ex­tra­or­di­nary G20 sum­mit to unite ef­forts to­wards a global re­sponse,” Saudi Ara­bia's King Sal­man said on Twitter.

The king­dom, which holds the G20 pres­i­dency this year, will host its lead­ers by video con­fer­ence on Thurs­day amid crit­i­cism that the group has been slow to re­spond to the cri­sis.

The fo­cus will be on China and the United States, which have been en­gaged in a war of words over the out­break, against the back­drop of a bit­ter trade dis­pute.

In prepara­tory talks for the G20 sum­mit, the two coun­tries agreed to set aside their dif­fer­ences, the news­pa­per said, cit­ing a diplo­matic source fa­mil­iar with the talks.

US Secretary of State Mike Pom­peo's ref­er­ence to the “Chi­nese virus” – a term Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has also used re­peat­edly – has greatly an­gered Beijing.

He has also ac­cused China of de­lay­ing the shar­ing of in­for­ma­tion about the virus and cre­at­ing risks to peo­ple world­wide.

Some US politi­cians were us­ing the pan­demic as a weapon to smear China, Beijing has said, ad­ding that its ac­tions, in­clud­ing quar­an­tin­ing mil­lions of peo­ple, had earned the world “pre­cious time” to pre­pare.

It has also dis­puted the widely held be­lief that the virus orig­i­nated in China, and com­ments by a for­eign min­istry spokesman that it could have been brought to the coun­try by the US mil­i­tary have fur­ther height­ened ten­sion be­tween the two.

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