President Donald Trump waves while playing golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, Saturday, November 21, 2020.
Manuel Balse Cheneta AP Photo
President Donald Trump on Saturday fails to attend a G20 virtual session on global coronavirus response efforts and improved pandemic preparedness, even as Covid-1
Major leaders among the world’s 20 largest economies delivered video messages for the virtual session on pandemic preparedness, including the leaders of Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea. Trump did not send a message about the event and did not appear to have an American presence at the session.
Trump is attending the opening ceremonies of a virtual summit organized by Saudi Arabia with other G20 leaders. The president later went to his golf course, Trump National Golf Club in Stirling, Virginia, where he spent the last few weekends after losing the presidential election.
In a statement issued later Saturday, the White House said Trump was discussing with world leaders the need to restore economic growth and jobs as the world struggled with the coronavirus, and reaffirmed the importance of the G20 for future prosperity.
Statement to the press secretary
President Donald J. Trump is attending the first day of the G20 virtual summit on November 21, 2020. President Trump has discussed with other world leaders the need to work together to restore strong economic growth and jobs as we overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. In his speeches, President Trump stressed how the United States has allocated every resource at its disposal to respond to the crisis, as well as the United States’ unprecedented economic recovery based on tax and regulatory cuts, energy independence and fair trade deals. He spoke of the aggressive actions and safety measures the United States has taken to protect vulnerable, pioneering innovative treatments and to develop vaccines and therapies at a record rate that will save millions of lives. President Trump also reaffirmed the importance of the G20 working together for future economic growth and prosperity.
For most of the week, it was unclear whether Trump would attend the final G20 summit before leaving office. The president is not scheduled to reappear at the G20 until Sunday morning.
More than 57 million people have been infected and more than 1.3 million have died from the virus worldwide during the pandemic, while global leaders are struggling to provide a coordinated response.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (top L), US President Donald Trump (top R), South Korean President Moon Jae-in (bottom L) and European Commission President Ursula von der Layen (bottom C) are seen on screen before Launch of a virtual G20 summit organized by Saudi Arabia and held during a video conference in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic (new coronavirus) in Brussels on 21 November 2020.
YVES HERMAN | AFP | Getty Images
Several G20 leaders have called for a fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and for the strengthening of the World Health Organization, with the agency taking the lead in fighting the pandemic and coordinating the way vaccines are distributed around the world.
The Trump administration announced its withdrawal from the WHO this summer and abandoned the agency’s plan to distribute a vaccine known as COVAX.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called for international co-operation to provide a vaccine for all and to build a system that allows the first doses of the vaccine to be targeted at the least developed countries. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for better funding.
“To defeat the pandemic, every country must have access and be able to afford the vaccine,” Merkel said during the event. “We need reliable funding, better cooperation, more independence.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin told leaders that Russia was ready to spread its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries and was working on a second and third vaccine.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said China was ready to accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines worldwide. China currently has five vaccine candidates undergoing phase III trials.
Trump, who lost the Nov. 3 election but did not back down, did not attend a White House coronavirus working group meeting for several months and did not answer questions from the press about the pandemic.
The United States broke another daily record for new Covid-19 cases on Friday, with more than 195,500 confirmed cases and at least 1,800 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The increase in cases leads to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, and currently more than 82,100 people are hospitalized in the country – more than at any time during the pandemic.
“Reuters contributed to this report.”