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Riyadh Assumes Leadership of G20 Bloc

Saudi Arabia has officially taken over leadership of the G20, a group of 19 nations plus the European Union that together account for the vast majority of world trade. It is the first Arab nation to head the bloc, which includes such countries as the United States, Japan, Mexico and Argentina. Its year at the helm will culminate in the 2020 G20 summit, to be held next November in Riyadh. According to the official Saudi Press Agency, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Gulf kingdom’s de facto ruler, called it a “unique opportunity” to have a say in world affairs. The crown prince, who insists he is seeking to bring liberalism to the country – for example by allowing women to drive and travel unaccompanied by male “guardians” – has come under withering criticism over the past two years for crackdowns on human rights as well as the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Heba Morayef, director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said on Sunday in a statement: “World leaders in the G20 must pressure Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure enjoyment of all human rights including freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”