Leaders of the world's most powerful economies will convene virtually on Thursday to try and coordinate a response to the fast-spreading coronavirus. 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, reports the AP.
Saudi Arabia has also been criticized for rocking oil markets by ramping up production next month and slashing prices to gain market share after Russia, another major G20 oil producer, refused to extend a production cut agreement that had propped up crude prices. The US has already called on Saudi Arabia to rethink its strategy. Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and Angela Merkel are among the heads of state who will take part in Thursday's G20 leaders' summit. They'll be joined by leaders from the World Health Organization, the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Labor Organization, and others. Officials from Spain, Jordan, Singapore, and Switzerland will also take part in the call, as well as chairs of regional bodies like the African Union, the Association of South-East Asian Nations, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. (Mike Pompeo took a hard stand at the G7.)