Trump to hold urgent G7 coronavirus meeting on Thursday

Group has backed debt relief for poorest countries to cushion economies from effects of coronavirus

FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron wrap up a joint press conference at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France. With entire countries on lockdown, state visits canceled and key meetings postponed or moved online, the coronavirus pandemic may have significant implications for weighty matters of war and peace, arms control and human rights. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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US President Donald Trump will hold a video conference with G7 leaders on Thursday to co-ordinate national responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, the White House said on Tuesday.

Mr Trump, who leads the G7 this year, had to cancel the group's annual summit, which he planned to hold at the presidential retreat of Camp David in Maryland, in June.

The Group of Seven nations are the US, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, Japan and Germany, all of which have been hit hard by the virus.

"Working together, the G7 is taking a whole-of-society approach to tackle the crisis across areas including health, finance, humanitarian assistance, and science and technology," said White House spokesman Judd Deere.

The Thursday session is a follow-up to a March 16 video conference to review efforts to defeat the coronavirus.

Another G7 session is expected in May to lay the groundwork for the June video conference.

Earlier, the nations backed debt relief to the poorest countries to help protect their economies from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The support came after a virtual meeting held on Tuesday morning chaired by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The G7 finance ministers and central bankers said they were ready to provide “a time-bound suspension on debt service payments due on official bilateral claims for all countries eligible for World Bank concessional financing”, if joined by China and other countries in the Group of 20 major economies.

The G20 health ministers will hold a video conference on Sunday to address the effects of Covid-19 on the global health sector and society, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting follows the G20 leaders’ summit in March, where health ministers were instructed to share national best practices and develop action for the G20 to jointly combat the pandemic.

The Saudi Health Minister, Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah, will chair the  meeting to discuss delivering resilient health care, encouraging digital solutions for global co-ordination and prioritising Covid-19 readiness.

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