President Donald Trump waves as he plays golf at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia on Saturday, November 21, 2020.
Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP photo
President Donald Trump did not attend a virtual G-20 meeting on Saturday on global coronavirus response efforts and improved pandemic preparedness, even as Covid-19 cases in the US are setting and breaking records on a daily basis.
Key executives among the world's 20 largest economies delivered video messages for the pandemic preparation virtual session, including leading companies from Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea. Trump did not convey a message for the event, and there did not appear to be an American presence at the meeting.
Trump attended the opening ceremonies of the Saudi Arabia-hosted virtual summit with the rest of the G-20 leaders. The president later visited his golf course, Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, where he has spent the past few weekends since losing the presidential election.
The White House said in a statement released later on Saturday that Trump spoke with world leaders about the need to restore economic growth and jobs as the world battles coronavirus, and the importance of the G-20 for the future Affirms prosperity.
Statement by the press officer
President Donald J. Trump attended the first day of the virtual summit of G20 heads of state and government on November 21, 2020. President Trump discussed with other world leaders the need to work together to restore strong economic growth and jobs if we are to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. In his remarks, President Trump highlighted how the United States was assembling all the resources 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 about the aggressive measures and security measures the United States has taken to protect the vulnerable, breakthrough pioneering treatments and create record-breaking vaccines and therapies that will save millions of lives. President Trump also reiterated the importance of G20 cooperation for future economic growth and prosperity.
It was not clear for most of the week whether Trump would attend the final G-20 summit before leaving office. The president is not due to appear again at the G-20 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 as world leaders struggle to bring about 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 Leyen (bottom C) are on a screen before the beginning of a virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia and held in Brussels on November 21, 2020 as part of a video conference as part of the Covid-19 pandemic (novel coronavirus).
YVES HERMAN | AFP | Getty Images
Several G-20 leaders called for an equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and the strengthening of the World Health Organization. The agency took the lead in fighting the pandemic and coordinated the global distribution of the vaccines.
The Trump administration announced its withdrawal from the WHO this summer and rejected the agency's plan to distribute a vaccine known as COVAX.
French President Emmanuel Macron urged international cooperation in making a vaccine available to everyone and building a system that would allow the first doses of the vaccine to be delivered to the least developed countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel called for better funding.
"In order to defeat the pandemic, every nation must have access to the vaccine and be able to afford it," Merkel said at the event. "We need reliable funding, better cooperation and greater independence."
Russian President Vladimir Putin told heads of state and government that Russia was ready to distribute its Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine to other countries and was working on a second and third vaccine.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is ready to push vaccine development and diffusion around the world. Five vaccine candidates are currently in phase III trials in China.
Trump, who lost but did not concede the November 3 election, has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting for several months and has not answered questions from the press about the pandemic.
The US 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 Johns Hopkins University. The increase in cases leads to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. There are currently more than 82,100 people in hospital nationwide – a higher number than at any point during the pandemic.
– Reuters contributed to this report