International cooperation answer to COVID challenge, says Jaishankar at G20

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Matera (Italy), Jun 29 (PTI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday that international cooperation is the answer to the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and underscored that vaccine equity will be the immediate test.

'Whether it is vaccines, medicines, PPE or oxygen, international cooperation is the answer to the COVID challenge. Need more, not less,' Jaishankar said while addressing the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting here.

'Institutional multilateralism has been found wanting. Reforms have many forms but vaccine equity will be the immediate test,' he said.

Hit by a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, India has been focusing on ramping up domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines as well their procurement from abroad.

'The real economy needs decentralised globalisation, including in manufacturing, food and health. Resilient supply chains must develop in parallel,' Jaishankar said, apparently raising concerns that the global economy was dependent on specific production centres.

In a speech last month, he had called for promoting decentralised globalisation and establishing resilient supply chains to de-risk the world economy.

Jaishankar said the full diversity of 'our planet needs more accurate reflection in global policy making.

India has recorded more than 3 crore coronavirus cases and registered nearly 400,000 deaths due to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic last year. Globally, the coronavirus has infected over 18 crore people and killed nearly 40 lakh, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Jaishankar also spoke at the G20 session on Africa during which he underlined India's solidarity with Global South and respect for African priorities.

'India will step up its digital cooperation in health, education and capacity building. We will work closely on health & food security, responding to the Covid impact. Our development projects will continue to progress, especially in power, water, agriculture & IT, he tweeted.

Jaishankar arrived in Italy from Greece on the second leg of this two-nation tour to attend the the G20 ministerial meetings.

The G20 summit is scheduled to be held in Italy in October. India is expected to hold the presidency of the G20 in 2022.

The G20 is an influential bloc that brings together the world's major economies.

The G20 member countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. PTI ZH AKJ AKJ

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