Trump tells G20 leaders he wants to work with them ‘for a long time’

Emma Graham-Harrison and Julian Borger
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Yves Herman/EPA</span>
Photograph: Yves Herman/EPA

Donald Trump has taken his campaign to deny the results of the US presidential election global, telling world leaders at the G20 summit that he looks forward to “working with you again for a long time”.

The gathering of leaders of major world economies is being held online this year, because of the pandemic, but could have been an occasion for Trump to bid his peers goodbye and pledge American support to the battle against Covid-19.

Instead he said he was looking forward to a “tremendous decade”. “It’s been a great honour to work with you, and I look forward to working with you again for a long time,” he said, according to audio of his comments obtained by the Observer.

He went on to boast about the US economy and military, and repeated false claims that the US government’s Operation Warp Speed was behind the two successful coronavirus vaccines.

It was in stark contrast to comments from other leaders, which focused on the fight against Covid-19, one source said. “His was the anomalous speech – the only one about domestic matters. Everyone else talked about global matters of life and death.”

President Donald Trump speaks with Saudi Arabia&#x002019;s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, last year.
President Donald Trump speaks with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, last year. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Most national leaders in their comments on the pandemic cited the World Health Organization and ACT Accelerator, which aims to speed up treatment and vaccines for Covid-19 and ensure equitable global distribution, a source said.

A number also reflected on how countries had failed to help each other when they should have done during crisis moments of the pandemic.

Trump, who pulled the US out of the WHO, did not mention either organisation. He also said that America would ensure “domestic needs are met” before working on getting vaccines to the rest of the world.

No speaker made direct reference to the outcome of the US presidential election. Joe Biden received at least 6 million more votes than Trump, and won the electoral college by 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.

Trump has refused to concede defeat, instead making baseless claims of voter fraud in an attempt to overturn the result so that he can remain in office – a power grab without precedent in modern American history.

The G20 summit is being hosted by Saudi Arabia, which had hoped to use it to showcase changes in the kingdom and rehabilitate the image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad.

However, the summit has been forced online by the pandemic, and overshadowed by persistent concerns about the host country’s human rights record, including the fate of jailed female activists.