G-20 SAARC video conference on COVID-19 a blueprint for other multilateral platforms: Indian envoy to Saudi Arabia

WION Riyadh, Ar Riyad, Saudi Arabia Mar 26, 2020, 05.54 PM(IST) Reported By: Sidhant Sibal Edited By: Sonal Gera

Modi Saarc conference Photograph:( WION )

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Speaking to Wion’s diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal from Riyadh, Indian envoy to Saudi Arabia Dr Ausaf Sayeed also detailed how the Indian mission has been taking care of Indians in Saudi Arabia during the crisis.

COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has claimed 13 lives so far in India, taking the total number of cases to 649. Maharashtra’s tally has reached 121, including three deaths. Delhi has 36 active cases, while one patient has died so far.

There are Indian nationals stuck in other countries as well. To this end, India has said G-20 SAARC video conference on COVID-19 -- to be held on Thursday -- presents a blueprint for other multilateral platforms — on how to tackle a global crisis. 

Speaking to Wion’s diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal from Riyadh, Indian envoy to Saudi Arabia Dr Ausaf Sayeed also detailed how the Indian mission has been taking care of Indians in Saudi Arabia during the crisis.

Sidhant Sibal: How do you see the G-20 Meet on COVID-19?

Dr Ausaf Sayeed: We are amid an unprecedented crisis. It is only natural that national governments across the world come together to agree on certain measures to tackle this extraordinary situation. The G-20 Virtual Summit will serve as an ideal platform for the leaders of the member states which represent the world’s biggest economies, and various international organisations to discuss and share the best practices that will help combat the health, economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sidhant Sibal: How do you see the Saudi Arabia efforts as the G-20 Chair for 2020?

Dr Ausaf Sayeed: Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saudi government has already taken several decisive measures to contain its spread. As the G-20 Chair for 2020, Saudi Arabia has rightly taken the lead in convening this Virtual Summit that will be chaired by the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to coordinate the international efforts to tackle this crisis.

Sidhant Sibal: How is the Indian community in Saudi Arabia doing amid the global scare?

Dr Ausaf Sayeed: Indians represent the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom, and we understand that there are some Indian nationals also among those who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus here. I take this opportunity to thank the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and HRH Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defence for ensuring the welfare of all residents in the Kingdom in the testing time. The Indian embassy is fully supportive of efforts of the Saudi authorities to handle the situation and we are confident that the steps taken will ensure the safety and health of our citizens. We remain fully available to provide any help to Indian nationals during this period and have requested the community to fully adhere to the local laws and guidelines to remain safe.

Sidhant Sibal: How do you see the global Indian efforts on video conferencing from SAARC to G-20?  

Dr Ausaf Sayeed: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the lead in bringing regional leaders together during the SAARC leaders’ video conference last week. It underscored the priority attached to international cooperation to fight the pandemic. Various important initiatives were taken, such as the creation of the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for which India has already pledged US$10 million. PM also had a telephone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince HRH Mohammad bin Salman on March 17, in which the two leaders agreed to a need for a coordinated effort to tackle the crisis among the G-20 member countries. We hope that the example of joint cooperation set by the SAARC and G-20 Member States will serve as a blueprint for other multilateral platforms to implement the best practices to tackle this crisis.